Iran blocks encrypted messaging apps amid nationwide protests

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One of the few official reports - by conservative Mehr news agency - showed protesters attacking a town hall in central Tehran, overturning a police auto and burning the Iranian flag.

On Tuesday Durov wrote on Twitter that while Telegram was being blocked in Iran, a rival messaging app that offers privacy, WhatsApp, was still available there.

Iranian internal minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli claimed in a statement that some individuals on social networks were "causing violence and fear".

The Iranian authorities have temporarily blocked access to two social media apps in the face of ongoing anti-government protests. Back in October Jahromi vowed to block "anti-revolutionary channels" on Telegram after Amad News channel reported that a state official's daughter was arrested for spying. After wishing Telegram users a Happy New Year on his channel, Durov wrote,"On a less joyful note, Iranian authorities started blocking Telegram in Iran today after we publicly refused to shut down channels of peaceful Iranian protesters, such as @sedaiemardom".

Since the 2009 Green Movement, more Iranians have access to anti-censorship technology, such as VPNs and proxies, servers that transmit content that can evade government controls. Should Telegram shut one Iranian channel down to preserve access to all the others?

But the activists, many of them students, found a technological loophole to stay connected and spread their message using the peer-to-peer "mesh messaging" app FireChat.

The made restrictions, however temporary, has had some ramifications for businesses, in particular small ones, in Iran. But "the reality is that the ban affects everyday Iranians' ability to use a tool that could keep them safe", he said. Still, researchers like Collin Anderson say Google could find a way to whitelist Signal in Iran if the company wanted to. "This suggests that workarounds for Iran's internet filters have become a way of life for many mobile and desktop internet users".

Google declined to comment on its policies regarding the use of its technology in Iran.

Many observers have also taken to Twitter - another officially blocked social platform - to try to make sense of the protests, which have been unprecedented in terms of their geographical spread since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Not quite of a surprise that, but it's an action that has drawn reaction from the United States government.

"Iranians are tech-savvy but by using jailbroken phones they leave themselves really vulnerable", Ms. Dagres said. As it is, she said, Iranians have proved to be resourceful in finding ways to communicate. The government enforced the block through a combination of centralized censorship by the country's Supreme Cybercouncil and local ISP interference to enforce more specific orders.

"Where there is a will, there is a way", Ms. Dagres said.

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