Desperate Iranian Ideas For Social Media Control

Mohammad-Ali Movahedi Kermani: not liking the Internet

In the latest desperate attempt to subvert the freedom of Iranian expression, the regime wants to enforce permits for foreign social network applications, such as Telegram and Instagram, with membership of 5000 or more users. The desire for such control also extends to other domestic platforms including Salam Up, Soroush, BisPhone, Cloob and Syna, along with advertising, news and entertainment channels on social media networks.

The cleric Mohammad-Ali Movahedi Kermani thinks that the Internet is a threat to Islam, because the Internet is full of rampant “tele-sex” and in his eyes is ultimately “immoral”. So concerned is Movahedi Kermani, that he puts the importance of subverting such “evil” as being above electoral issues or other pressing concerns, such as use of the Hijab.

 
Mahmoud Vaezi: deluded

Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi thinks that channels with 5000 or more members should require permits so that the poor naive Iranian population can be assured such channels will not be fooling them with false information. Vaezi has been involved in Iran’s “filternet”, after Ahmadinejad‘s attempts in 2007 to “control” the Internet, and now the replacement “national-Internet” or Shoma, is vainly trying to do the same thing. Badly.


The Deputy Culture Minister for Communications Technology and Digital Media, Ali-Akbar Shirkavand, also wants a website that will soon be launched for administrators of such “channels” to register and continue their activities after authentication. The fear is, such controls by the regime could affect the opinions of journalists, artists and celebrities.

 
Cyber Police (FATA): Losing the plot
 

FATA chief, Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar said that Telegram is the main platform for cybercrimes among mobile social networks. “The platform for 66% of the crimes is Telegram, while Instagram accounts for 20% and less than 2% is observed on WhatsApp,”  he said, without clarifying what “cybercrimes” were being committed via such applications… perhaps they include (according to Shirkavand anyway) copyright infringement and the sale of “immoral” goods on such channels. 

 
Kamal Hadianfar: battling the “evils” of social networks
A reality check: discord and feasibility
 
The regime’s desire to crack-down on Internet freedoms is at odds with an overtly more liberal stance on such technology by Hassan Rouhani; Rouhani calls for more freedom of expression, but everyone else wants to suppress it #awkward. For example, Attorney General Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri wants to shut down what he calls “anti-religion” networks and said of them: “Down with the freedom that is destroying everything…this is absolute enslavement”.
 
There is also the minor issue (conveniently overlooked by the regime) of Iran’s inability to see the encrypted communications of platforms such as Telegram, and vain requests to get access to servers that must be placed in Iran are naive, at best. Also, what are the sentences to be expected by such “cybercriminals” who would dare to use such platforms? The whole thing is a joke and everyone knows it (even the regime).
  

Iran’s Cyber Police futile request for Iranians to stop using Telegram


The leader of Iran’s Cyber Police (FATA) , Brigadier-General Kamal Hadianfar has asked Iranian citizens to stop using the secure messaging application Telegram immediately!

Hadianfar says Iranians should stop using Telegram due to “security” reasons; what he really means is that FATA cannot control Telegram because servers are not hosted in Iran! Hadianfar said that, “People expressed concern over the usage presence of Telegram messaging app“. Presumably he means that FATA and the wider Iranian regime are more concerned! As an Iranian ex-patriate or as a citizen still living in Iran, I doubt I would find any Iranian citizen who would agree with Hadianfar.

Citizens may be perhaps more concerned that Telegram was written and is supported by the Russian Durov brothers and one may say (if paranoid) that perhaps the Russian state could be behind Telegram? Russia is *allegedly* helping Iranian cyber efforts anyway, so perhaps this is a disinformation campaign by FATA to actually encourage Iranians to keep using Telegram?! Perhaps I am giving too much credence to FATA; in reality they cannot control Iranians from using Telegram any more that Iran’s filternet stopped Iranians from accessing certain content on the Internet.

Brigadier-General Kamal Hadianfar looking concerned


The Brigadier-General, the man with the finger on the pulse of all things Iranian cyber in nature, went on to say that, “Foreigners take advantage of the information uploaded on this server. In fact, the main Telegram admin does not have a serious determination to confront social, cultural and moral crimes”.

Perhaps this says it all: FATA are having real problems trying to control the digital youth of Iran.