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Iran orders overseas apps to store data locally amid security concerns

Iran’s authorities have imposed a twelve month time limit for messaging apps to relocate local user data onto servers located in the country.

The ruling was made by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which claimed that the decision was based on the “guidelines and concerns of the supreme leader”. The move has stoked concerns over user privacy and data security.

Certain social media services, including high-profile sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are already blocked in Iran. Apps that trade on their security credentials, such as the messaging app Telegram, stand to be strongly impacted by the decision.

Human rights organisation Article19 recently reported that Iran is developing a “National Internet Project” aimed at hosting content locally on a network located within Iran. The Supreme Council of Cyberspace has reportedly received an extended mandate and further-reaching powers, having been granted total authority for monitoring Iran’s internet services.

Article19’s report notes that “given Iran’s record in violating its human rights commitments based on civil and political (including religious and ethnic) grounds, the development of projects such as the National Internet Project are especially concerning.”

Many countries cite security concerns as their justification for cracking down on the freedom granted to foreign messaging services, with Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all involved in high profile disputes on the matter. 

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