The Iranian government is ordering all messaging apps in the country to move all of the messages and data they have on their servers and shift them to Iranian servers before they face some consequences. The move which was reported in various news outlets raises concerns about privacy and security in the company.
The Iranian government intends to track and trace all private and semi-private conversations that will be taking place on all messaging apps on mobile devices in the country. The government, which has already blocked some globally popular social media networks seems to be in the hunt for more control over what goes on the Internet with this new rule they are implementing.
This means that apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram, globally successful messaging service apps which were also incredibly popular in the country now have to shift all the data they have. The Iranian government does not have any control over the conversations that take place on the messaging services, and users can easily create groups and discuss sensitive matters on WhatsApp and Telegram since they both offer end-to-end encryption. Through the creation of groups, hundreds of people can all be reached at once.
The new end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp recently installed means that they cannot read or decipher the messages that are sent by the users in the network. Only the users in a chat can do that. So how they will be able to send over and transfer the data to the Iranian servers, and how the Iranian government is going to be able to read it is baffling.
Apple also has encryption on its iMessage platform. Apple does not hand out messages to governments over the world either; they can’t even if they wanted to.
Telegram also has an option to let you start a secret conversation by switching on the security feature. This enables the end-to-end encryption feature, and as far as Iranians are concerned, they are aware of this feature which simply means they have been using it, and the Iranian government would not be able to read the people’s conversations. Telegram messages are not encrypted by default; users have to switch on the feature.
The Iranian government banned other social media networks, but citizens have been going to these websites through various methods. Just like in any other country where Facebook, Twitter, and other websites are restricted, people use VPNs to circumvent the restrictions. This way, no Iranian ISP can see what you are doing on the Internet. To counter that loss, the Iranian government now wants to start a new game with the messaging apps.
Encryption will go a long way to safeguard the freedom of speech we have and is our basic right even on the Internet. This means that governments or corporations which want to undermine people’s opinions on the Internet can’t do that.