Tech analysis from Africa and the world

Iran Gives Ultimatum To Social Media Firms To Store Iranian Data Locally

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It was around July last year when world powers (mostly western) reached a “landmark” deal with Iran regarding its nuclear stockpile and opponents and supporters alike analysed the benefits and disadvantages of the deal. In any case it was unprecedented because it allowed Iran back into international business lie oil sale. We saw banks and other big companies making advances at the new business open Iran. But this morning we woke up to a Reuters report that says Iran has now ordered all foreign organisations (social media in particular) to start storing Iranian users data in Iran within one year. This means that companies in this category must comply or face sanctions. Iran blocks access to Facebook and Twitter services even though many users still access them from within Iran using proxy services.  

“Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity,” Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace said in new regulations carried by state news agency IRNA on Sunday.

Iran and North Korea are notorious for brazen internet policing sometimes for political reasons. Reuters notes that Telegram (messaging app) might be worst hit as it has about 20 million users in Iran and some Iranians are already saying they may have to opt out of any services that comply by building a data bank or centre in the country to comply with the new law. Most advanced countries sniff through the internet for different reasons and while most western nations claim theirs is for security reasons, the same cannot be said of other countries.

“The New York Times had reported yesterday that the United Arab Emirates  (the country where Dubai in which Dubai is located) government has been purchasing commercial software (mostly western) to crack down on political dissidents. The barriers to join the global surveillance apparatus have never been lower. Dozens of companies, ranging from NSO Group and Cellebrite in Israel to Finfisher in Germany and Hacking Team in Italy, sell digital spy tools to governments.

A number of companies in the United States are training foreign law enforcement and intelligence officials to code their own surveillance tools. In many cases these tools are able to circumvent security measures like encryption. Some countries are using them to watch dissidents. Others are using them to aggressively silence and punish their critics, inside and outside their borders.”

With Boko Haram insurgents claiming territories in  Nigeria between 2014 and 2015, the government mandated that all SIM cards and high tech equipment be duly registered with biometric details of owners. Accusations from opposition parties/individuals  over the years has been that the government taps illegally into the lines of people it deems high political or security risks.

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