The Iranian government has officially released a mobile messaging app, Soroush in a bid to encourage users to abandon the currently banned Telegram messenger.
The app, Soroush, developed in the country has a majority of features already found in popular app Telegram, that was used extensively as a way of communicating during 2017’s anti-government protests.
The push for Soroush came into force when National Cyber Centre decided to withdraw Telegram’s license to operate in the country. As per IRNA, a state press agency Telegram’s license cancellation was announced by the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company which is the sole telecommunication infrastructure provider in Iran.
Soroush that has been available for several weeks was officially launched on Thursday.
The promotion of Soroush and a government’s watch into the homegrown app has raised questions among Iranians that their messages could be monitored. This was not possible with Telegram as the government did not have access to the encryption keys and the app’s servers.
Soroush has almost same features like Telegram including sticker pack that can be downloaded by users to be used in their messages.Within Soroush sticker market, there is an emoji of women saying “Death to America”, along with emoji criticising Israel and praising Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Privacy Battle Over Telegram Continues
The telegram has reportedly been in a battle over privacy in many countries including Iran.
Besides Iran, the messenger app was also recently blocked in Russia because the company refused to hand over its encryption keys to Russian security services.
People in Iran and Russia have now moved to virtual private networks, following Telegram’s ban as VPN’s help them circumvent the block and allow its continued use despite the ban.