If you are offering messaging services to Iranians you’ll have 12 months before you will be forced to move your servers that store those messages onto Iranian soil according to an announcement made today by the Islamic Republic.
Iran has a fondness for grandiosely named ministries
“Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity,” said Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace in announcing the new regulations.
The Iranian people are given the ability to vote for their “ruler” in open elections, but the country remains largely governed by ruling religious leaders and has since the Shah was chased (rightfully?) from power in 1979 after running afoul of the same religious rulers. The people of Iran are some of the most secular Muslims in the world and quite open minded while their leaders have largely not been on the same page and the country has been one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism since the uprising of 1979.
Now Iran is insisting that messaging companies give it complete access to their servers in a move that has been called “extremely worrying” by the group Privacy International.
While many options are available it its citizens the most popular messaging app is German-based Telegram that is used by roughly 25% of the population.
Whether or not Iran will be able to enforce this new policy remains to be seen.
This is not for an unwillingness to try. The country has no problem arresting those viewed to be using the Internet incorrectly and has been the use of a number of websites and apps though through the use of proxy servers and VPNs the largely intelligent Iranian people have largely gotten around this not unlike millions of Chinese that don’t particularly struggle to get around the Great Firewall of China.
“There have been similar announcements in Russia and China but the practical ability to enforce these kinds of regulations is questionable,” Edin Omanovic, a researcher at the London watchdog Privacy International, said in an email.