Telegram CEO: App briefly blocked in Iran after spy request

AP News
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Posted: Oct 22, 2015 8:38 AM

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian officials briefly blocked access to the smartphone messaging application Telegram, its founder and CEO says, making it the latest social media outlet to be targeted by authorities in the Islamic Republic.

Telegram is an application that allows users to send text messages, pictures and videos over the Internet. The service touts itself as being highly encrypted and allows users to set their messages to "self-destruct" after a certain period, making it a favorite of activists and others concerned about their privacy.

In a message on Twitter late Wednesday, CEO Pavel Durov wrote that Iranian officials demanded the company provide them with "spying and censorship tools."

"We ignored the demand, they blocked us," Durov said. Later, Durov said access to the application was restored after a week's interference and two hours of full blocking.

Iran's official IRNA news agency on Wednesday quoted Mahmoud Vaezi, the country's communications and information technology minister, denying that authorities were "filtering" Telegram.

Users in Tehran said Telegram worked Thursday.

Iran blocks social media websites like Facebook and Twitter and censors others, though top officials have unfettered access to social media. Many Iranians access sites by using proxy services and virtual private networks.