Senior figures in Iran's government are reportedly debating a possible move to ban Telegram's messaging app, in part over fears its new token could undermine the national currency.
Telegram is widely used in Iran and is already frowned upon by some government members for its claimed role in the organization of protests in the country in December 2017.
Following a recent record-breaking initial coin offering (ICO) in which Telegram has already raised $1.7 billion, the company has plans to use the funds to develop an ambitious blockchain platform aimed to decentralize aspects of digital communication and which will be powered by its own "gram" token.
According to U.S.-based news site Al-Monitor, Hassan Firouzabadi, secretary of the country's High Council for Cyberspace, yesterday pushed for Telegram to be blocked in Iran on state TV, saying the firm's dominance in Iran was "the enemy of the private sector" and adding:
"Telegram has officially announced that it will be used as an economic platform, and Telegram will undermine the national currency of Iran."
On March 31, according to the news source, parliament member Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the move to block the messaging app "was a decision made at the highest levels, and Telegram will be replaced by a domestic app."
In response, Iran's moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, was quoted as saying at a meeting of government officials: "The goal of creating and enhancing Iranian software and messaging apps should not be blocking access [to other apps], but [the goal] should be the elimination of monopolies."
Rouhani was also cited as saying by Jalal Mirzaei MP, "Nobody is opposed to breaking Telegram's monopoly, but blocking Telegram is not the solution for creating [and enhancing] local messaging applications."
Hassan Rouhani image via Shutterstock