Iran has affirmed Telegram cryptocurrency development constitutes an act against its national security, especially in anticipation of the online messaging platform’s plans to roll out a proprietary token. The government of Iran has had problems with the company before due to its perceived pivotal role as an encrypted information tool in the organization of protests against the country.
Iran Bans Access to Telegram
The government of Iran declared the soon to be launched cryptocurrency update to Telegram, a currency reportedly titled, “Gram,” a grave assault to the economic status of the country. Javad Javidnia, a member of the Criminal Content Definition Task Force, explained, “One of the most important factors in banning Telegram was a sense of serious economic threat from its activities, which was unfortunately marginalized and neglected due to the fuss in the political atmosphere of the country.”
The country has been under heavy international economic sanctions, and has struggled to find a way to subvert them in any meaningful sense. As a result, Iran has been hit very hard, and it is reportedly developing its own state-backed cryptocurrency similar to that of Venezeula’s.
Beyond developing its own version, the government has been openly hostile to outside use of crypto. Its central bank banned cryptocurrency purchases due to concerns over money laundering and a crisis of its own currency.
Telegram ICO and its Dealings with the Iranian Government
The Telegram ICO was one of the biggest initial coin offerings of the last year, with more than 1.6 billion dollars collected just in the angel investor phase. However, they have failed to deliver a working product in the last year. Leaked Telegram tech white paper documents have been criticized for lacking specifics about the implementation of the token.
This is not the first time the messaging app has scuffled with the Iranian government. Last year around this same time, Iran banned access to the app due to its use by protester organizers, saying they were doing so to “maintain peace” amid protests. Earlier this same year, the app suffered a court-ordered ban that also made the app unavailable through any of the country’s internet providers.
Banning Telegram, a decentralized world messaging app is not going to be an easy task for the Iranian intelligence service. That was the case for the Russian services that banned Telegram last year, taking out entire subnets from their ISPs.
Despite the prohibition, Iranians are harnessing the power of cryptocurrencies more and more and are turning to bitcoin to get their money out of their country via new, unorthodox ways.
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