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).
  

Viber Contests Ability of Iran to Tap Communications

In September Iran newspaper Khabaronlineclaimed that Viber conversations can be monitored by Iranian government agencies. 
 
In the piece entitled “Are Viber and WhatsApp really monitored easily?” the paper quoted a “computer expert” named Mani Haghshenas who stated: “It is possible for users to use Internet networks that shut down certain security protocols and disallow Viber to encrypt messages, and, ultimately, a network such as Viber would prefer to switch to a normal message transmission mode, in order to avoid permanent nonoperation of its application for some of its users. The country’s filtering systems may sometimes block and disable the security and communication protection capabilities of an application, and in order to continue its operation, such applications may automatically have to provide their services to their users without encryption, and such circumstances would assist the governments to control and tap communications.” 
 
A Viber Company representative refuted these claims and told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the application communications are encrypted and as such it is not possible for third parties to monitor messages. “All text messages sent through Viber on its supported platforms are encrypted. Media messages, such as photos and videos, are encrypted on Viber for iOS, Viber for Android, Viber for Windows 8 and Viber for Windows Phone 8.”