The debate over Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging service, in Iran was highlighted when the controversial news about the imminent filtering of Telegram was announced by Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the National Security Commission of Iran regime’s parliament.
Boroujerdi announced on Saturday, March 31, that the decision to filter Telegram by April 20 was taken “at the highest level” of the regime, and one day later, in defense of his statement, said: “Telegram is part of the security threats of the country.”
During a conversation with the regime’s “News Network” last night, Abolhassan Firoozabadi, the secretary of the regime’s supreme cyberspace council, considered the threat of Telegram “not only a security but also an economic threat,” further strengthening suspicious intention of the government officials to block the instant messaging system.
Following this discussion, a newspaper has announced the mobilization of five networks of the Islamic Republic’s Broadcasting (IRIB) against cyberspace.
The state-run Jomhuri Islami, in its issue on April 5, noted the discussion on cyberspace as “one of the most important social debates in 2018” and wrote that the efforts to close the “loophole” of cyberspace for small private companies are not random or “by accident”.
The newspaper proposes a few sobering questions and writes: “Why no one does speak of the benefits and rewards of this definite reality of today’s world? Why should five IRIB’s networks be mobilized against it? Why do they impose a television program forcing the TV host to ask their famous guests to send a message about cybercrime damage, and they say a few words reluctantly and as cliché?”
Jomhuri Islami newspaper considers the problem with the Telegram filtering fans as “ineffective in dealing with the scientific achievements of the world,” and writes about the replacement of Telegram with internal messenger: “The propaganda about the use of the internal information network comes at a time when reliable news shows that its custodians have easy access to all personal information of users, and without any sense of security, no wise person enters this environment.”
Confessing to the general discontent with filtering the Telegram messaging service, the newspaper writes: “In a year when the government needs more support than ever, filtering Telegram will not be anything but general dissatisfaction and public discontent.”
Firoozabadi, secretary of the regime’s supreme cyberspace council, went beyond the head of the parliament’s National Security Commission, speaking not only on security threats, but also on the “economic threats” of Telegram to Iran.
“Telegram wants to become an insurance company, an agency of transactions in our country, and an instrument for exchanging money and pursuing transactions between the two parties, whether legally or illegally,” Firoozabadi said adding, “Telegram is becoming a virtual pyramid company.”
He also called Telegram “the enemy of the private sector,” and said: “Telegram has accumulated $2 billion in Aiko’s method from the capitalists in the United States. Telegram should tell who are their shareholders? Why, while it has the most users in Iran and has a monopoly, it has not invited private sector investors while such money is related (belongs) to our country. ”
The clamor of the secretariat of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace about Telegram for not inviting the private sector comes at a time when the pulse of the Iranian economy is not in the hands of the private sector but in the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and and its affiliated companies, a military institution that is not accountable to anyone and there is no control over its activities and all attempts to curtail its economic activities has failed.
The economic activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) cover all areas and although its commanders have repeatedly claimed that its affiliated companies only implement large-scale projects that the private sector is not able to do, but contrary to this claim, Khattam-ol Anbiya (the IRGC’s) headquarters with dozens of affiliated companies have taken up thousands of small and medium-sized projects that could be taken up and implemented by the private sector.
The rule of the IRGC on Iran’s politics and economy is such that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani once said that the “IRGC is no longer satisfied with less than the entire country.” Hassan Rouhani had complained about “the government with a gun,” and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once described the Revolutionary Gurads as “our own smuggler brothers.”
Clearly, with such a domination of the economy, all competitors will be eliminated and there will not be a space for the true activity of the private sector.
The Supreme Council of Cyberspace was formed on March 7, 2012, upon the order of Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, with the task of launching the National Center for Cyberspace.