A deputy prosecutor has announced a judicial order to also filter Instagram due to what he described as over-usage of the social media app. Instagram had not been blocked as of January 4, 2018, and it is unknown when the order will go into effect. Iran is notorious for the limitations it imposes on freedom of expression.
While Twitter and Facebook were blocked in 2009 and Telegram in 2018, Instagram remained accessible throughout the country without the use of censorship circumvention tools (such as virtual private networks), resulting in millions of Iranians, including state officials, businesses and celebrities relying on the app to reach their followers.
One week before the order to ban instagram was announced, Telecommunications Ministry Spokesman Jamal Hadian tweeted a confidential letter signed by Hossein Fallah Joshaghani, the head of the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), ordering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to only allow access to Instagram as a separate, chargeable product.
If the state agency’s order had been carried out, Iranian consumers would have to pay extra for accessing the social media app, which is normally free, on their mobile phones or via their personal Wi-Fi networks.
Banning Instagram or requiring users to pay extra to access the app is a violation of net neutrality principles, which advocate free and unfettered internet usage without limitations, regulations or prohibitions.