August 19, 2022
Iranian authorities have blocked cell phone users from receiving two-step verification codes on their devices in a move to further restrict access to social media and to filter access to information.
Several social media users reported on August 17 that text messages containing login codes for the applications for Telegram, Twitter, and WhatsApp were filtered by cell phone operators in Iran and could not be received.
This means that if a user in Iran is logged out of the application, it is not possible to log back into the account again.
Some reported that Telegram was enabling phone calls to give access codes to users.
Iran’s government has been seeking to impose further restrictions on Internet-based communications and Tehran has been accused of secretly beginning to implement the Cyberspace Protection Bill, which hands control of Iran’s Internet gateways to the armed forces and criminalizes the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) that mask Internet users’ locations and enable them to view blocked websites. The bill is supposedly being reviewed by a parliamentary committee despite fierce public criticism.
A draft of the bill released in July last year raised concerns about strengthening the government’s legal authority to block websites and platforms run by foreign technology companies that do not have a local representative in Iran.
It would also require people to register with identification to access the Internet and would criminalize the production, sale, and distribution of VPNs.
Iranian authorities already block tens of thousands of websites and regularly throttle or cut Internet connectivity during crucial periods, including a near-total shutdown for nearly a week amid anti-establishment protests following a disputed election in 2019.
International social media platforms are already subject to blocking in Iran, and journalists and others rely on VPNs to access services like Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Telegram has been filtered in Iran since about four years ago and Twitter since 2008. But, in September last year, a report by the Iranian Statistics Center showed that 45 million Iranians are still members of Telegram and send 15 billion messages on this social network every day.
In recent years, Twitter has also been one of the main networks of Iranian citizens for publishing social and political news in Iran.