A conservative Iranian court opened a case against instant messaging services WhatsApp and Instagram while also summoning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over complaints of privacy violation, state news agency ISNA reported on Tuesday.

The case underscores the growing struggle between moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s drive to increase Internet freedoms and demands by the conservative judiciary for tighter controls.

The Iranian court in the southern province of Fars opened the cases against the social networks after citizens complained of breaches of privacy.

“According to the court’s ruling, the Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses,” said Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian internet official, according to state news agency ISNA, referring to Zuckerberg’s Jewish background.

Zuckerberg, whose company owns WhatsApp and Instagram, is unlikely to heed the summons.

Iran is still under international sanctions over its disputed nuclear activities and it is difficult for U.S. citizens to secure travel visas, even if they want to visit.

Internet use is high in Iran, partly because many young Iranians turn to it to bypass an official ban on Western cultural products, and Tehran occasionally filters popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Rouhani, in remarks that challenge hardliners who have stepped up measures to censor the Web, said earlier this month that Iran should embrace the Internet rather than see it as a threat.

A Rouhani administration official said Iran would loosen Internet censorship by introducing “smart filtering”, which only keeps out sites the Islamic government considers immoral.

(Reporting by Michelle Moghtader; editing by Sami Aboudi and Alister Doyle)




1 comments
Bahmani
Bahmani

So by violating the privacy of it's citizens by data and content mining, and filtering every single internet connection sent into and out of the country, the government of Iran has determined that FB and Whatsapp and Instagram are violating the privacy of Iranians.


My opinion and I think the story by Reuters is paid for propaganda by the Iranian government based on the fact that this story was approved by the Iranian government for publication. My opinion is that Reuters may have secured these rights for exclusive news form Iran, by either an outright fee, or an arranged access agreement with the government of Iran that allows this kind of carefully sanitized story to be published without the other side of the report included.


The truth and other side of this story is that as much as Iran hates the West and Israel, it certainly loves them some spying software and is on par with what the NSA can do, in many cases even more, given that ALL internet and telecommunications gateways are controlled by the Iranian government.


Since Iran controls its version of Verizon, it can not only read whatever Tweet or text you send, but knows who you sent it to, and who they sent it to. The can also stop or delete any attached video, which should explain for CNN why NO citizen journalism can ever come out of Iran.


In addition, the recent "Happy" YouTube video in which the Iranian kids were arrested for attempting to pretend to be "happy" living in Iran, were not turned by a jealous friend or a neighbor who did not make the final cut, but were arrested from the post being intercepted by the Iranian government software, minutes after it was posted.


Of course this never made any news. And I am sure won't be part of any US-Iran negotiations. Because after all and at the end of the day who really cares about the Iranian people and their aspirations to be free. Especially when there is money to be made. Why should Siemens be the only one to sell Iran centrifuges?

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