Last night President Rouhani stated that its government has been trying to lift the ban on Twitter and they have suffered to keep social media open.

Last night on January 22, President Rouhani participated in an interview on the state TV to provide answers for some of the issues that his government has been facing. In the past four years, the country has invested massively on mobile internet to the point that in 2013 Iran had under 1% of mobile internet penetration and now it has more than 47 million mobile internet users. Combine the number of mobile internet users with the number of smartphones —which should be around 52 to 55 million (only 2 million in 2014) devices— and you have the backbone for the digital economy and a new era in the country. This is why that three important issues: digital economy, internet censorship and the ban on Twitter were addressed by the President in his interview. Here are the answers from the President:

Digital economy:

The President: According to the report from Communication Minister in the past two years, 100 thousand mobile-centric jobs have been created. This couldn’t be possible without the internet. The internet infrastructure, and providing the freedom of using it is our responsibly, that’s why when social media platforms [Telegram and Instagram] got banned temporarily, I did my best to lift the ban as soon as possible.

Internet censorship:

Host: You said that in your government you won’t push the ban button again, How come you did it happened?

The president: Yes we’ve done it for a few days and for the security of the country. However, we didn’t let it continue. Some even said that we were after banning social media platforms and we proved them wrong.

The ban on Twitter:

Host: We see some contradictions on the issue of banning social media platforms such as Twitter. How come the President and the ministers use Twitter but it’s banned for the people?

The President: You are right. In my government, we do our best to make the internet more open. A number of social media platforms have been banned in the previous governments [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration] and we couldn’t lift the ban in my previous term. However, we are hoping to lift the ban in my current term of presidency. People should know that in order to keep the internet open, my administration has suffered a lot and we hope with the help of other authorities in the country, we secure this freedom for the people.

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[…] vocal leader with staying power has granted at least initial approval to a junior reformer who has spoken out against some of the repressive media policies the former favors, accepting some political risk.  […]