Telegram and Instagram being restricted in Iran

Messaging app Telegram and Facebook-owned social sharing platform Instagram appear to be being blocked in Iran.

Iran state TV said yesterday that authorities were temporarily blocking the services to “maintain peace”, according to the AP news agency.

The country has seen a rising wave of anti-government protests in recent days and ministers have accused social media of fueling dissent.

On Saturday Iran’s ICT minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi tweeted directly at Telegram founder Pavel Durov — claiming that one of the platform’s channels “is encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprisings, and social unrest” and urging Durov to act to “stop such encouragements via Telegram”.

In a post on his Telegram channel yesterday, Durov said the authorities had “imposed a block on Telegram”, adding that it is “not clear whether permanent or temporary”.

He also confirmed that Telegram admins had suspended the channel that Jahromi had been objecting to — naming it as @amadnews — but claimed this was as a result of the channel admins having broken Telegram’s terms of service rules by “calling its subscribers to use Molotov cocktails and firearms against police”.

Responding to Jahromi’s earlier tweet Durov also noted that: “Calls for violence are prohibited by the Telegram rules. If confirmed, we’ll have to block such a channel, regardless of its size and political affiliation.”

Following the suspension of @amadnews, Durov writes that the channel admins were able to “reassemble most of their subscribers (800,000) in a new peaceful channel, which we welcomed” — after apologizing for breaking Telegram’s ToS and pledging “not to promote violence in future”.

At the time of writing neither Instagram nor Telegram could be reached for comment.

Telegram has a large user base in Iran — with Durov stating last year that it has ~40M monthly active users, which amounts to around half the population of the country, and 25M daily active users.

With media censorship a fact of life in Iran, digital services and apps such as Telegram have offered citizens an alternative outlet for accessing information — including, when service blocks are imposed, the capacity for more tech savvy users to use other digital tools (such as proxy servers) to circumvent attempts to restrict access to uncensored content.

However the Iranian government has been pushing for control over foreign messaging platforms — including, in 2016, calling for companies to move their servers to Iran, sparking privacy fears.

Last year Durov was forced to deny that Telegram had moved some of its servers to the country — saying rather it had installed some local caching nodes to speed up download times.

The local CDNs could not in any way aid state censorship of the platform, he asserted.

Iran’s government has also been targeting Telegram channel administrators — issuing a requirement that admins of channels with more than 5,000 members register with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Those not registering risk prosecution. While registered admins expose themselves to the risk of arrest — putting channels under greater pressure to self-censor.

Continues . . .  Telegram and Instagram being restricted in Iran


What is blockchain, and why do the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to use it?

Last week, the UAE’s central bank announced it was working on a joint cryptocurrency, based on blockchain, with its counterpart in Saudi Arabia

Dubai: Since beginning its dramatic rise in value over a year ago, many commentators have pronounced bitcoin dead, saying instead that the true value of the polarising digital currency was to be found in its underlying technology, blockchain.

Cryptocurrency experts disagree, however, saying this analysis is too simplistic.

Whatever the true worth of bitcoin, in recent years it has been blockchain technology that has seen the overwhelming majority of investment from banks, governments, and large companies.

But what is blockchain, and why does everyone want to use it?

Essentially, a blockchain is like a record that is accessible to anyone; a ledger that registers every single transaction.

It can be used for a number of different things, including hospital records, financial transactions, and government data.

It is not controlled by anyone: There is no central authority such as a government or bank. Instead, everyone who uses it contributes to it in some small way.

Supporters say this kind of structure makes it more efficient and fair.


Source: What is blockchain, and why do the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to use it?

YourVoice™ America (12/6) – Jerusalem Israel’s Capital!

“I have determined it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” President Trump said, as he fulfills a campaign promise many made but never delivered…”

As the previous post indicates, opposing views to President Trump’s announcement that the USA will enact legislation that was passed in 1995, requiring the US government to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel are easy to find. Last night, Bill Mitchell presented his arguments for supporting Trump in this decision.

Personally, I don’t understand why this is such an emotionally-charged issue, or why it is global in scope.


“Declaration Of War”: Trump Jerusalem Decision Sparks Outrage, Warning Of “A Fire With No End In Sight”

“He is declaring war in the Middle East, he is declaring war against 1.5 billion Muslims, hundreds of millions of Christians that are not going to accept the holy shrines to be totally under the hegemony of Israel”

Trump’s Mideast team, led by his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have spent months meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders. Details of their long awaited plan remain a mystery.

Update: President Donald Trump has unveiled what he described as a “new approach” to the Israel-Palestine conflict Wednesday afternoon when he announced that the US would officially recognize Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel – while ordering the State Department to develop a plan to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would make the US the only country to host its embassy in Jerusalem.

In a speech from the White House, Trump acknowledged that he was defying many world leaders – including the Pope – by ordering what will in effect be the biggest disruption to the interfaith Status Quo that has governed the Holy Sites of the three Abrahamic religions for more than 250 years.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

Trump began his speech by pointing out that a law passed in 1995 requires the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem. However, every US president until now, a group that includes Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Trump, has consistently delayed the decision, as Reuters pointed out.

Erdogan said he was organizing a call with leaders of the Muslim world to discuss a response to the US’s declaration.

Trump said the move to Jerusalem was “long overdue.”

“This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and work towards a lasting agreement”, Mr Trump said in his remarks. He added that he was directing the US State Department to develop a plan to move its Israel embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Today at 1pm, president Trump will announce the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but will sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to there for 6 months. Trump’s decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem upends decades of American policy in the Middle East and risks inflaming violence in an already-tense region. And sure enough, the announcement prompted an immediate – and furious – response sparking Arab, Muslim and European opposition to a move that risks violent protests.

While Israel naturally welcomed the news, Palestinian officials declared the Mideast peace process “finished”, calling it a declaration of war, and Turkey announced it would host a meeting of Islamic nations next week to give Muslim countries’ leaders an opportunity to coordinate a response.


Full Story:

Saudi-led strikes hit defence ministry in Yemen capital: witnesses

SANAA: The Saudi-led coalition carried out two air strikes on the defence ministry in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa late Friday, witnesses and rebel media said, without reporting casualties.Warplanes continued to circle in the skies above Sanaa after the strikes, the witnesses added.The Huthi rebel media outlet Al-Masirah also reported the two air strikes.The coalition has targeted the defence ministry in the past, leaving it heavily damaged, but the fresh strikes come amid a ratcheting up of tensions between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran, which backs the Huthi rebels.

Source: Saudi-led strikes hit defence ministry in Yemen capital: witnesses