According to a recent statement by Iran’s Cyber Police, 66% of Cybercrimes in Iran take place on Telegram, 20% on Instagram and less than 2% on WhatsApp.
Kamal Hadianfar, Chief of Iran’s Cyber Police recently stated that there are 152 active messaging apps in the world, of which 52 of them are active and being used in Iran. According to Iran’s Cyber Police and the latest decision of the Working Group on Criminal Cases, 30 of these 52 apps should get blocked.
For some reasons, Telegram has become the most popular messaging app in Iran, but this has become an issue for internet regulators in the country. The various channels, bots, groups, unofficial in-app stores and games are only some of the reasons behind the popularity of this app in Iran. Keep in mind that this app is consuming 40% of Iran’s internet bandwidth and has nearly 30 million users in Iran. With this impact, comes some serious cybercrimes. Iranian government and Telegram have operated before to detect and set restrictions for prohibited content, but this messaging app refused the government’s request to move its servers to Iran for its Iranian users. “We should be able to have access to the servers, whereas we don’t have access to Telegram, WhatsApp and Instagram’s servers and [these apps] are reluctant to give us access,” said Hadianfar, Chief of Iran’s Cyber Police.
According to a new legislation by the government, Telegram channels with more than 5 thousand members should be registered on the Ministry of Culture’s website. One reason behind this decision might be the tremendous influence that these channels have on people.
The government is currently supporting local messaging apps in hopes of attracting users to locally made applications. Supreme Council of Cyberspace has also given a one year deadline to some of these applications in order to move their servers to Iran. If this doesn’t happen these applications will probably get blocked for Iranian users.
Other messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Line only have a small share in Iran’s market and that’s the reason behind the focus on Telegram. Instagram the most popular unblocked social media is also widely used among Iranians, not just for sharing photos, but also sharing first batch news and selling items.
Iran Cyber Police has introduced itself on its website as follows: “Cyber police of Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 2011 based on internal and international standards in order to prevent, investigate and combat cybercrime.”
“The purpose of establishing cyber police is to secure cyber space, to protect national and religious identity, community values, legal liberty, national critical infrastructure against electronic attacks, to preserve interests and national authority in cyberspace and to assure people in all legal affairs such as economic, social and cultural activities in order to preserve national power and sovereignty.”