Iran demands social media data on citizens

TEHERAN • Iran has given foreign social media one year to hand over data on their Iranian users, state news agency Irna said yesterday.

The decision was taken on Saturday at a meeting of an Iranian committee on the use of cyberspace, it said. The committee, headed by President Hassan Rouhani, serves as an IT regulator.

"Foreign social media active in the country must transfer to Iran all the data they hold on Iranian citizens" within a year, Irna said.

The measure will affect, in particular, Telegram, an instant messaging app with over 20 million users in the country of 80 million people.

Irna said the committee has also decided to work to develop homegrown social media to compete with foreign networks.

Authorities in Iran - where Facebook and Twitter are officially banned although users can gain access with easily available software - have for years tried to impose curbs on Iranians using social media.

Mr Rouhani, a moderate cleric, has repeatedly pointed to the ineffectiveness of any measures to limit access to social media.

In another development, moderate conservative Ali Larijani retained the speakership of Parliament yesterday despite major gains for reformists in February elections, benefiting from credit gained by his support for last year's nuclear deal with world powers, led by the United States.

Several lawmakers from the reformist camp broke ranks to vote against the head of their own List of Hope, Mohammad Reza Aref, who lost by 103 votes to 173.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Iran demands social media data on citizens'. Print Edition | Subscribe