The statement of Signal said: “Unable to stop registration, the Islamic Republic censors are now dropping all Signal traffic,” We haven’t given up
Iran has a long history of controlling the flow of information online for Iranian citizens as well as blocking encrypted chat applications and social media sites, particularly during times of unrest. Twitter and Facebook have been banned since 2009, following the presidential election. Amid economic protests in 2017, Tehran worked to block Telegram, a ban it cemented later in 2018 over allegations that the application could harm national security amid the protests.
The Iranian government appears to have blocked Signal usage in recent days amid a newfound surge in popularity.
Signal users in Iran began reporting issues connecting to the end-to-end encrypted chat application on Monday.
The Open Observatory of Network Interference noted the apparent Signal blockage the same day. Some of the trouble began as early as Jan. 14 when Iran’s filtering committee labeled encrypted chat applications as “criminal content” and ordered them removed from local application stores.
Despite the removal of Signal from Iranian app markets, many users say they were able to download the app from Google Play. Some Iranian users believe the reason for the app’s removal is to “prevent the popularity of Signal so it doesn’t turn into another Telegram.”
Despite the filtering of Twitter and Facebook for Iranians, most regime officials and their families use these apps for their propaganda purposes.
Signal indicated on Twitter that it would keep working to give Iran-based users access to the application’s encrypted chats.
“Iranian people deserve privacy. We haven’t given up,” Signal said in a tweet.