Instant messaging service, Telegram has been dealt with a second major blow in the last 15 days. According to local reports from Iran, the country is all set to block Telegram on “national security” grounds. Telegram had also recently lost a Supreme Court appeal in Russia, now it is forced to either hand over encryption keys to the Russian government or face a permanent ban.
Iran’s head of the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi has confirmed to the local media that Iran will shut down Telegram. “The decision is made at the highest level keeping nation security in mind,” Mashregh News quoted Boroujerdi as saying. The app would be replaced by a similar local system, Boroujerdi said. Telegram currently have some 40 million users in Iran.
Telegram was temporarily shut down in Iran last December, when the country was erupted by anti-government protests. The protests began in late December and continued into 2018, initially focusing on the government’s economic policies but developing into expressions of opposition to the theocratic regime. According to Boroujerdi, Telegram played a destructive role during the protests and the latest decision was a response to that. Nearly 5,000 were arrested in the protests, while more than 25 peoples lost their lives.
What’s wrong with Telegram security?
First thing first, Telegram doesn’t encrypt chats by default! The service uses its homegrown MTproto protocol for chat encryption, and not end-to-end encryption, for normal chats. End-to-end encryption is only there on the so-called Secret Messages. Not many users are aware of it, or don’t bother starting a secret chat, as it’s not available by default. This leaves them at risk of being hacked, as there’s no proof on how secure Telegram’s homegrown MTproto protocol is.
While governments may have no interest in the chats of ordinary people, there are plenty of criminals who do. So it is always advisable to use an app with end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp.