Foreign messaging apps and services have a year to move data about Iranian users to servers inside the country’s territory since Iranian authorities commanded it on Sunday. The Supreme Council of Cyberspace released new regulations in order to control the information of Iranian users, due to security and privacy concerns on social media networks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the nation.
Declarations made on May 29 attended privacy and security concerns about internet platforms from Iranians. The order stated that foreign messaging companies active in Iran must transfer data linked to Iranian citizens to servers inside Iran if they want to continue providing their services in the country.
Companies have a year to adjust to this order. Social media platforms must demonstrate to the Supreme Council of Cyberspace that all data and content linked with Iranian users is securely stored in servers inside Iran and not in foreign countries.
Telegram may be the first affected
Social media platforms with messaging services are under the scope of Iranian authorities. However, Telegram, a messaging service developed in 2013 as a mobile app, may be the most affected platform.
Telegram offers a free encrypted messages service with the possibility to sustain secret chats, and its use is extremely popular in the Middle East and Iran. Actually, Telegram is now surpassing the use of email and web blogs in Iran, with more than 20 million users in 2015.
In October 2015, the service was blocked by Iranian authorities in order to control the flow of “inadequate content,” and immoral content seems to be easily shared through the secure platform of Telegram. That is the main reason why this company is the first on the sight of Iranian authorities.
Iran’s controls on internet access
Internet censorship in Iran is a complicated issue. Iran observed an increased use of internet service as a trend in the last few years, but Iranian agencies have responded by blocking popular websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, among some webmail services.
The reasons behind this censorship politic are mostly based on ideological issues, linked with the government ideals against opposition presence in social networks. Strict rules are implemented in cyber cafes, intranets and in the internet usage in general.
However, an incredible amount of users managed to surpass the controls and censorship to web platforms, by using different software and security mechanisms to mock the Iranian control system. Iranian authorities attack this trend with the imprisonment of radical social media users and activists of freedom of expression. Most people got arrested for breaking religious or moral laws and sharing immoral content on internet platforms.
Some activists online have spread the claim that there is a regime control in Iran that works like a Cyber slavery phenomenon.
The response of app developers and messaging services companies is still unknown. So far, most internet based services have proved a deeply rooted compromise with the privacy of their users, and most companies are strongly committed to the encryption of their messaging and chat service.
Iran has also a major problem with hacking networks. There is a high index of theft of data and information, in some cases very sensitive to users and companies, like employees records, airport security details and identification photos. Several operations have been discovered lately in Iranian intranets.
Servers around the world
Social media and other internet platforms use servers in different countries all over the world. The United States holds the biggest amount of servers, between 390 and 600 million, but Canada, Europe, and Latin America also have a considerable amount of servers.
Most internet platforms do not reveal the location of their servers in order to provide a safer service, securing the data of their users in unknown locations.
Users usually feel safe when the data and information related to their usage of the platform is stored in a safe location probably far away from their places of origin, and in that sense, Iranian citizens have expressed through social media that if Telegram and other platforms actually move the servers to Iranian territory they will stop using the service, since its no longer that safe for them.