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If there’s something that authoritarian regimes hate is a certain influential element over which they have no control. Cryptocurrency certainly fits that description, and this is why autocratic governments attempt either to have some sort of command over it or to utterly prohibit its usage. Such is the case with the dictatorial regime of Iran.
Javad Javidnia, Iran’s Secretary of Criminal Content Definition Task Force, has imparted that any type of collaboration with Telegram in an effort to roll out the messaging app’s cryptocurrency Gram in Iran will henceforth be considered as an action against the state’s national security. Javidnia stated:
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.
The only “serious economic threat” is the lack of absolute domination over a population that a tyrannical government needs in order to rule. A decentralized system is a huge threat to a centralized authority; and therefore the Iranian government defines, in this case, Gram as a national security risk.
Crimes against national security are being tried (if you can call it that) in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court where trials are closed to the public and a single judge without a jury determines everything, often after a deliberation with the government; so it’s not really a situation in which fairness or justice take a part.
Over the years, Iran has been taking a very hard line on Telegram. Whilst the messaging app has been incredibly popular in the country – according to some reports, Telegram has 40 million Iranian users – it was also blocked alternately since 2015 until April 2018, and after which it has been permanently banned by the authorities.
Telegram Open Network (TON) – the company’s anticipated all-inclusive crypto platform – is reportedly about 70% complete and is expected to be released this autumn. It is more than likely that the Iranian regime acknowledges that TON might gain astounding popularity amidst the country’s citizens, and therefore it attempts to stop it from happening beforehand.