News source By: Clarion Project
Hundreds of Instagram, Telegram, WhatsApp and other social media users were arrested or summoned by the Iranian regime, as reported Seven Days, an Egyptian news outlet.
“These people were carrying out immoral activities, insulted religious beliefs or had illegal activities in the field of fashion,” the Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Gherdab website reported. Another report on the arrests was run by the independent ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency).
Particularly troublesome to the regime, which seeks to monitor and control all Interest usage in the country are those sites that are encrypted, such as Telegram and WhatsApp.
Since 2012, it has been reported that the Iranian government blocks 27 percent of Internet sites at any given time. As of 2013, close to half of the top 500 sites – including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – had been blocked, although software is available through which these sites can be accessed.
Close to half of Iran’s 80 million people use the Internet with 20 million users on Telegram.
Sky News reports that last May, President Hassan Rouhani, billed as a moderate by the West, gave foreign social media companies one year to hand over requested data on their Iranian users.
In 2009, the U.S. Senate authorized $50 million to help Iranians dodge the regime’s Internet censorship. In addition, the funds were to be used to dissuade foreign companies not to sell monitoring equipment to Iran.
According to the Washington Times, Nokia Siemens Network (through a German holding company) sold the Iranian government equipment enabling it to sort and catalogue phone calls, e-mails and other web communications.
In 2012, the Iranian government passed legislation which required Internet cafes to gather a variety of personal details about their users.
The Iranian news outlet Tabnak, reported police issued a warning to all Internet cafes:
“Internet cafes are required to write down the forename, surname, name of the father, national identification number, postcode and telephone number of each customer. Besides the personal information, they must maintain other information of the customer such as the date and the time of using the Internet and the IP address, and the addresses of the websites visited. They should keep this information for each individual for at least six months.”
Elsewhere in Iran, police arrested 34 men and women at a private party in a home in the center of Kerman, Iran, as reported by Seven Days.
In announcing the arrests, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Kerman, Dod Houda Salari said two wealthy brothers owned the house and used their riches to transform the residence into a place of corruption, alcohol consumption and other crimes.