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'30 Million Iranians Bypass' Internet Filtering Using Two Domestic Apps

"Telegram in Iran" a graphic by Iranian cartoonist Shahrokh Heidari, 05Sep2017

Iran's Deputy Prosecutor General Abdolsamad Khorramabadi says more than 30 million Iranians continue to access the banned messaging app Telegram using two domestic applications Hotgram and Talagram.

Hotgram and Talagram are two messaging apps produced by the Iranian company Rahkar Sarzamin Hooshmand (Smart Land Strategy) using Telegram’s open source code and servers.

In a post published on the social media on Saturday, July 14, Khorramabadi labeled the apps as “anti-filtering” programs and called the communications ministry an accomplice since it was providing the apps unfiltered internet.

Telegram, the most popular messaging app in Iran was blocked on April 30 by an order of Iran’s judiciary. More than half Iran's 80 million were using Telegram for various reasons, including accessing uncensored news.

Since then, Iranian authorities have begun encouraging citizens to use similar apps developed in Iran.

However, due to privacy and security concerns, Iranian users do not trust domestic apps and most continue using Telegram, resorting to circumvention techniques, including virtual private networks, VPNs, and anti-filtering software.

“The activities of Hotgram and Talagram prevent the expansion of domestic messaging applications and allows foreigners to access the country’s data,” Khorramabadi wrote and added that the mentioned apps violate the decisions made by the High Council of Cyberspace, the highest authority in charge of internet censorship.

“It is the peak of laziness that government institutions wait for Telegram and other foreign messaging applications to provide a communication platform for our people in internet and make our domestic companies the vassals of Telegram,” Khorramabadi wrote and demanded an end to connection between Hotgram and Talagram to their mother software Telegram.