Iran: Telegram shutdown denounced as unjustifiable restriction on freedom of expression & criticized for its damage to business
Author: Saeed Jalili, Al Jazeera (Qatar), Published on: 5 May 2018
"Telegram shutdown sparks anger in Iran", 04 May 2018
Internet freedom has become a new political battlefield in Iran as a judicial order to block Telegram, a widely used messaging application, has ignited anger among its tens of millions of users. Web service providers gradually started cutting off access late on Monday following the ruling by the Tehran-based Culture and Media Court. The move came despite members of President Hassan Rouhani's reformist government pushing against it for months, especially after efforts to ban the app gained traction among hardliners in the wake of mass demonstrations late last year... Other online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been blocked for years by the government, although they can still be accessible using virtual private network or VPN. Telegram is also a means for Iranians to circumvent media censorship..."Blocking Telegram is a huge step backwards in social, economic and cultural development of Iran," Saeed Laylaz, a Tehran-based economist...In a statement, Human Rights Watch denounced the decision as an "unjustifiable restriction on freedom of expression and access to information"...Reformist legislator Mohammadreza Badamchi called on the government to "explain" the reasons for the ban on Telegram, which he said will damage businesses run mostly by the youth. Elmira Tehrani [said] the ban is hurting her business. She designs handmade accessories for the online brand...