Israeli Tech puts Iranian Startups in Bind

Khorramabadi added, “Judicial authorities have ordered that the app be filtered.” On the same day, Mahmoud Vaezi, then Iran’s communications and information technology minister, said his ministry had blocked the app following an order from the judiciary. Vaezi said: “This is an Israeli software and since we are dealing with a judicial order we have to abide by it.” He further added, “Since this software can be replaced by many other native apps, businesses should use the domestic versions instead.”

The ban on Waze was removed Oct. 3 after the application added a Persian language tool. However, on Oct. 9, Khorramabadi said officials “have demanded that the Communications Ministry block the app again. A team has been commissioned to take the necessary measures to block Iranians’ access to Waze. However, blocking the app needs time, because Waze uses infrastructure that is time-consuming to stop.”

On Nov. 18, judiciary officials ordered all internet transportation apps to terminate service to users who had the Waze app on their phones. The move was criticized by Communications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, who voiced his objection through a series of tweets Nov. 22. Jahromi said, “Considering that the community using this app is limited to about 20,000 [ride-hailing app] drivers only, its usage will not lead to security concerns.” Jahromi further added, “It is unlikely that this judicial order is meant to support native apps.”

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