Financial Tribune- Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi says the ministry has come to an understanding over banning controversial content with managers of Telegram Messenger, the most widely used mobile communications app in Iran.
Vaezi said such measures are necessary to enhance the security of social networks in line with the rapid increase Internet use, local technology news agency CITNA reported.
The ban applies to content on sex, anti-religious, child molestation and abuse, domestic violence and terrorism issues, he said.
Asked about banning the whole app, Vaezi dismissed the notion explaining that the socio-economical advantages of Telegram outweigh its downsides.
The instant messenger has become widely popular in Iran with an estimated 45 million active users, and is mostly downloaded for reading news, advertisements, communicating with others and finding a job.
“Of course this messenger has got its pros and cons, but we have launched many projects to control and protect users and help ensure their safety against unacceptable content,” he added.
According to the minister, more than 170,000 posts have had criminal content so far, and 400 million immoral images had been blocked.
“Seven million channels have been filtered and 121 anti-censorship apps have also been blocked,” he added.
All the criteria and measures have been adopted under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, he was quoted as saying.
The Committee for Determining Instances of Criminal Content (CDICC), a working group under the supervision of the attorney general, had announced regulations in April on the appropriate use of Telegram.
Comply With Rules or Face Prosecution
According to the committee, individuals and groups using the popular mobile messaging app must comply with the rules. Failure would bring prosecution.
In response to Vaezi’s statements, a lawmaker underscored the necessity of “identification” of Internet subscribers. “In many countries, the complete user information is registered, while in our country everybody, even under-age people, can easily have access to the web without having to prove their identity.”
Hossein Ali Haji Deligani said since the social media has become a big part of many young people’s lives the Telecoms Ministry is obliged to exert tighter control over Internet services.
He also called for boosting infrastructure for local users’ needs so that they will not have to use foreign websites, most of which are “incongruous” with the moral and cultural beliefs of Iranians.
More than 90% of Internet use in Iran is related to foreign sources, while statistics show it is the other way round in most developed countries.
For instance, in South Korea more than 80% of visits are to local websites.