Telegram is probably best known as an encrypted messaging app, popular for those that oppose censorship. And here, the app's relationship with the government is getting worse.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the Iranian government has started its attempt to shut down the messaging application due to growing unrest in the country that it attributes to the app. Officials ruled out that using Telegram app is prohibited, and ordered telecommunication companies to block the service.
This started out in mid-April, when the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, announced the shutdown of his official Telegram channel. Government employees were ordered to stop using it.
The order said that Telegram gave Islamic State a "safe ground" in planning their attack in Tehran in 2017. The country also blamed Telegram for its role in the December-January protests, which was the largest in Iran in almost a decade.
But Iran has learned from Russia that blocking Telegram is not easy. The app has technical measures which allowed it to bypass censorship, and users can access it using VPN. In Russia, Roskomnadzor ordered ISPs to block almost 16 million IP addresses and domains, which resulted in the country crippling its own internet.
In Iran, there are about 40 million Telegram users. This is half of the country's population, and also one-fifth of Telegram's global user base.
Hearing about the news, Iranian IT experts created a modified version of Telegram to help the country's netizen connect, if the country ever succeed in totally blocking Telegram.