In an attempt to curb the cryptocurrency industry further, the Iranian government has criminalized any ties with the cryptocurrency development of the encrypted messaging app Telegram, according to a report by Tehran Times.
Javad Javidnia, Secretary of Criminal Content Definition Task Force, has declared that any cooperation with the Telegram messaging app to launch Gram, the messaging app’s cryptocurrency, in Iran will be considered as an action against national security. Moreover, the authorities will also see the offense as a disruption to the national economy.
“One of the most important factors in banning Telegram was a sense of serious economic threat from its activities, which was unfortunately marginalized and neglected due to the fuss in the political atmosphere of the country,” Javidnia stated.
Iran always remained hostile towards cryptocurrency and even social media. In December 2017, the country’s authorities temporarily blocked public access to Telegram along with the photo-sharing app Instagram after a mass protest to ‘maintain peace.’ Later in April last year, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself barred all government officials from using Telegram which was followed by a similar order by the country’s judiciary.
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Billion Dollar ICO
Telegram, in early 2018, announced the development of a blockchain-based platform called Telegram Open Network. Later it raised around $1.7 billion in two private token sale rounds.
Iranian officials were highly critical of Telegram’s shift towards blockchain and believed that the platform, by introducing cryptocurrency in the country, could potentially ‘undermine the national currency of Iran.’
Telegram, because of its privacy features, is adhered by the cryptocurrency community worldwide. Russia, in 2018, also banned the platform citing concerns over its hyped ICO.
In July 2018, the Iranian government censored access to cryptocurrency exchanges due to the rising popularity of Bitcoin in the country.
People in Favor of Crypto
Despite the Iranian government’s hostility, digital assets are very popular among a large number of its population. As reported by Finance Magnates earlier, many Iranians are adopting cryptocurrencies to mitigate the damaging effects to the country’s economy by years of US sanctions. Moreover, reports showed that the country is also playing with the idea of introducing a national cryptocurrency.