Iranian daily: Social media bans only led to emergence of ‘VPN mafia’

An Iranian daily criticizes the government for maintaining a ban on foreign-based social media platforms, which has forced Iranian citizens to spend money for illegal virtual private networks (VPNs) to get access to those media.

Jomhouri-e Eslami daily said the “catastrophic” Internet ban imposed by the government has led to the emergence of a “VPN mafia” in the country while failing to cut the public access to the banned platforms.

“It seems that the authorities of the country’s Internet space must, once for all, define their relationship with the filter-breaking mafia and put an end to these fruitless restrictions that only fill the pockets of certain people,” the daily wrote.

The Iranian government tightened bans on US-based social media giants last year, in the wake of a wave of protests and riots that followed the death in police custody of a young woman.

Officials criticized Whatsapp and Instagram, among other similar platforms, for their “bias” toward the developments in Iran and for promotion of violence on the streets in the country in the course of the unrest.

Tehran says all social media platforms will be free to operate in Iran if they agree to open an office in the country and regulate their activities.

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