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  • CEO Of Encrypted Messaging App Wins Censorship Battle With Iran

    Iran walked back demands for censorship controls this week, after a public outcry over its initial decision to block a popular encrypted messaging app.

    Pavel Durov, founder and chief executive officer for the app Telegram, took to Twitter to defend the app Tuesday, after Iran decided to block it because he wouldn’t allow the government to spy on its users. (RELATED: Iran Debates Whether America Is Now Just A Medium-Sized Satan)

    “Iranian officials want to use @telegram to spy on their citizens,” Durov tweeted. “We can not and will not help them with that.” And in a follow-up tweet: “Iranian ministry of ICT demanded that @telegram provided them with spying and censorship tools. We ignored the demand, they blocked us.”

    @youyeganeh Iranian officials want to use @telegram to spy on their citizens. We can not and will not help them with that.

    — Pavel Durov (@durov) October 20, 2015

    @CDA Iranian ministry of ICT demanded that @telegram provided them with spying and censorship tools. We ignored the demand, they blocked us.

    — Pavel Durov (@durov) October 20, 2015

    The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is the branch of the Iranian government that is responsible for the postal service, phones, and information technology.

    According to Durov, ICT completely blocked the app in Iran for two hours on Tuesday and partially blocked it for more than a week. (RELATED: Brave Iranian Women Ditch Headscarves In Defiance Of Regime)

    Dr. Mahmoud Vaezi, the head minister for Iran’s communication agency, denied authorities were “filtering” Telegram, ABC News reported Tuesday.

    Durov later tweeted that the Telegram service was back to full capacity. “Yes, @telegram traffic is no longer limited in Iran after a week’s interference and a 2 hours full blocking,” he tweeted.

    @uncover007 @HadiNili Yes, @telegram traffic is no longer limited in Iran after a week’s interference and a 2 hours full blocking.

    — Pavel Durov (@durov) October 20, 2015

    Iran routinely blocks completely or filters social media sites or apps, including Facebook Twitter, and Instagram. These “smart filters” act as a gatekeeper for the internet traffic flowing into Iran and allow the government to censor information it deems “illegal or inappropriate.”

    “Authoritarian states across the world are demanding access to personal communications with catastrophic effects on people’s privacy and the ability of activists, journalists and others to exercise their human rights,” Privacy International researcher Edin Omanovic told Motherboard in an email. And when service providers, such as Telegram, resist those demands “they must be commended.”

    Follow Steve Ambrose on Twitter

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