Mahsa Amini: WhatsApp wants to keep its service online during the protests in Iran

After the sensational death of Mahsa Amini, there have been repeated civil protests in several cities in Iran. The government is apparently also reacting to this with deliberate restrictions on digital communication. According to the website Netblocks At the beginning of the week in the province of Kurdistan, where Amini, who died after being arrested by the vice squad, came, the mobile internet was almost completely paralysed. According to Netblocks, network disruptions had previously occurred in Tehran, albeit on a smaller scale.

It got more serious on Wednesday: the mobile phone networks across the country were temporarily switched off or massively restricted in the evening, the London portal reported

. On Thursday evening it made similar observations, on Friday night Netblocks spoke of “curfew-like interruptions” in the network connections.

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According to the report, WhatsApp and Instagram are also affected by restrictions. The two offers from Meta have so far been among the few international services in Iran that are popular on the one hand and not yet banned on the other. On Wednesday, however, both US apps were radically slowed down

. Two informants from Tehran and southern Iran told the Reuters news agency that they could only send messages via WhatsApp, but no longer pictures. Meanwhile, Instagram even seems to be completely blocked.

2019 the internet was down for almost a week

Iran’s government has already 2019 implemented internet blocking, to disrupt unwanted protests: At the time, when people were demonstrating against a fuel price increase, many Iranians were without a network for a week. Most of the country’s citizens go online using their smartphones. The stationary Internet is less important in Iran than in Germany.

On Thursday evening, WhatsApp commented on the current disruptions to its service. “We stand up for people’s right to access private messages,” it said on the messenger’s official Twitter account in English and Persian. “We are working to keep our Iranian friends connected and will do everything within our technical capabilities to keep our service running.”

In its statement, WhatsApp also emphasized that it does not block Iranian phone numbers. The accusation that the services actively denied users with such numbers the use of the messenger had made the rounds on the net on Thursday.

Amnesty Iran calls for help from other countries

Mahsa Amini war died in hospital last Friday after being in a coma. The 22-year-old had previously been arrested by the vice squad for violating the strict Islamic dress code. What exactly happened to Amini after her arrest is unclear in detail. Critics accuse the morality police of using violence. The police deny these accusations.

The Iranian branch of Amnesty International wrote on Thursday that he was “deeply concerned that the Iranian authorities are interfering with access to the internet and mobile networks”. World leaders are urged at the UN General Assembly to “take urgent action to pressure the Iranian authorities to stop killing and injuring protesters under cover of darkness.”

In Iran there have been plans to ban Instagram and the end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp for some time. Internet services from abroad are a thorn in the side of the Islamic establishment because, unlike the state media, the government has no influence over the content disseminated therein. Services like Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube are officially unavailable in Iran. They can only be reached with the help of so-called VPN services – which, however, will no longer help in the event of a complete internet failure.

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