The authorities in Iran have given messaging app makers twelve months to move data from local users to servers located in the country, prompting security and privacy concerns.
According to Reuters, the decision came from the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, adding that the move is based on the “guidelines and concerns of the supreme leader”.
It noted that app Telegram could be impacted “in particular”, due to its popularity – which results from its security credentials. Some services, such as Facebook and Twitter, have already been blocked.
A recent report by human rights organisation Article19 said that Iran is currently working on a “National Internet Project”, which is intended to create a “local” network with content hosted within the country.
“Given Iran’s record in violating its human rights commitments based on civil and political (including religious and ethnic) grounds, the development of projects such as the National Internet Project are especially concerning,” it continued.
Reports late last year said that the Supreme Council of Cyberspace has seen its powers growing, as it became the sole authority for overseeing the internet in the country.
Of course, Iran is not the first country to look to curb the influence of overseas messaging service providers, with security an oft-cited concern. India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have all taken action at various points.
A high profile case involving WhatsApp in Brazil is slightly different, in that while services were banned for a short period of time, this related to data requested as part of a specific court case, rather than blanket security.