New Messaging App by Iran's Basij Militia Gives State Access to All Conversations

Officials hope Salam will lure users away from applications such as Viber and WhatsApp that are hugely popular in Iran. Screenshot taken by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Officials hope Salam will lure users away from applications such as Viber and WhatsApp that are hugely popular in Iran. Screenshot taken by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

This post first appeared on iranhumanrights.org and is published here in collaboration with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. 

The Basij paramilitary organization, a subsidiary of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), announced the launch of its new messaging service for mobile phones, “Salam.” The application will give state officials full access to all content and data that pass through it.

The new messaging application, now available for free download, will use servers owned and controlled by the Basij, thus allowing easy access to and monitoring of all user conversations by the paramilitary group and intelligence agents.

Officials hope Salam will lure users away from applications such as Viber and WhatsApp that are hugely popular in Iran, and which state organizations have tried to block in the past in their efforts to control all online and mobile phone communications.

The new application represents another step in the authorities’ continuing efforts to replicate all international online applications and services with state-issued ones, so that user content can be accessed and monitored by state officials.

National search engines, email services, browsers, operating systems, and SSL certificates have all been introduced as part of this effort to implement a state-controlled National Internet. The national project intends to provide services separate from the global Internet and thus subject to control and censorship by state authorities.

In an interview with the Basij Press, Hamid Jafari, Head of Iran Basij’s Information Center announced the Salam messaging application on May 5. Jafari said that Salam will serve as an alternative to Viber, WhatsApp, and Telegram, with “more trust, stability, and security,” as compared to the Western options.

Jafari also advised users to save their “valuable time and life, by staying away from [social] networks” such as Viber, WhatsApp and Telegram. “If you take a look at the history of social networks, you will reach the conclusion that the so-called social networks are based on Western philosophy, where humanism and human-centered philosophy is their deciding factor. In other words, none of the principles and fundamentals of Islamic philosophy can be seen in these networks,” Jafari told Basij Press.

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