US sanctions drive Iran to cut off Internet access, replace Apps

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The Head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali said that his country is in the process of cutting off internet access, launching instead a national network as the US re-imposed sanctions near in early November, in a move seen by observers that it comes within the Islamic Republic control of possible protests due to further deterioration of economic and living conditions.

Fars news agency quoted Jalali as saying: “After November 4, with the start of the second round of US sanctions, we will move on to the national network of information that will respond to the basic services of the people.”

Jalali added that Iran is facing complexed threats currently in sites and apps on social media, saying: “they are tools in a psychological warfare against Iran on the cultural, political, secyrity and economic levels.”

The Head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization said: “The threat of the complexed social media is our top priority and we are dealing with it as a threat to national security.”

He warned that the “United States wants to instigate the Iranian people against the government through media, phones and internet.”

Since the outbreak of popular protests in January, which continue to sporadically erupt from time to time for various economic and living reasons, Iranian authorities try to control servers that feed foreign applications, in order to uncover activists and contain protests in which social media applications and networks, play a major role.

The recent US sanctions classified Abulhassan Firouz Abadi, head of the Supreme Council for Cybersecurity, with other Iranian officials, like Abdul Samad Khoram Abadi, head of the Internet crime investigation committee, as well as TV and Radio Authority chief Abd Ali Askari for their role in human rights violations and blocking and monitoring the Internet, imposing surveillance on peaceful activists and suppressing recent protests.

Meanwhile the Iranian regime is trying to replace the foreign and international applications with national ones, like Soroush replacing Telegram and QAB, but some Iranian lawmakers and activists have protested that, saying the Iranian citizens don’t trust national Apps. amid the total control of the Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Unit and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.

Firouz Abadi, head of the Supreme Council for Cybersecurity, threatened last month to block Instagram as he did with Telegram if the company does not cooperate with the Iranian government through providing details on the users.

Despite the block on Telegram, still 79 percent of Iranian users connect to it through other medium according to a survey done between May, 20 till June, 20 of this year.

While 46.7 percent of social media users connect to international and foreign Apps. Compared to 3.9 percent of Iranians who use national applications, when 14.1 percent of Iranians use both mediums.

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