These days, the Iranian people are struggling to get access to VPNs, and the associated costs have been added to their daily living expenses, especially for those living close to or below the officially declared poverty line.

In an attempt to prevent new protests, the regime has blocked various social media platforms and websites. Despite these restrictions, people continue to use social media apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Telegram to connect with the world. Many rely on these platforms for their daily income and to run their businesses. However, the regime has imposed an additional cost on them through the use of VPNs.

The significant number of visits to Telegram posts from Iranian channels further underscores this issue. According to a report by Yektanet, an online advertisement platform in Iran, posts from Iranian channels on Telegram were viewed 590 billion times in 2022, and there are currently 780,000 online stores on domestic and foreign social networks.

According to statistics from the Iranian Students’ Opinion Center, over 70% of Iranians use social networks continuously. Yektanet’s report reveals that each Iranian user follows an average of 275 public pages on Instagram. In the past year, 660 million posts were published in Persian Telegram’s public channels, with each Iranian user liking an average of seven thousand posts on Instagram.

The upward trend of Iranian users on Instagram is evident, with the number of personal pages on Persian Instagram increasing from 36 million in 2021 to over 41 million in 2022. Even though the platform is censored in Iran, the number of public pages has also surpassed 6 million.

Yektanet’s 2022 report indicates that 94% of Iranian businesses have channels on Instagram, 72% have channels on Telegram, and 29% are active on Twitter. The average number of followers for these businesses on Instagram is 13,500, and on Telegram, it is 5,700. These high statistics reflect the importance of censored platforms for the advertising and commercial activities of businesses in Iran.

This situation has turned the VPN market into a profitable venture, with an estimated turnover of 40 to 50 trillion tomans, as declared by a member of the parliament, Allahvardi Dehghani, who serves on the regime’s parliament’s industries commission.

In an interview with the Iran Dideban website, Dehghani expressed concern about the creation of a black market where VPNs are sold at unrealistic prices, with the majority of profits going to brokers and rent-seekers. He blamed the Ministry of Communication for enabling this situation and suggested that the ministry should directly sell VPNs to the people, eliminating intermediaries.

Dehghani’s concern is not about the regime’s ministry emptying people’s pockets or harming businesses and lives. Instead, he proposes that the ministry take over the sale of VPNs, preventing their sale by middlemen.

For over a year, this ministry has deprived people of their civil rights, harmed businesses, imposed new costs, and compromised the security of their data and devices.

Jalal Rashidi Kochi, another representative in the regime’s parliament, announced on November 19 that the annual turnover of VPNs in Iran is 44 trillion tomans. In a video interview with Farhikhtegan newspaper, Kochi emphasized that this figure is the ‘minimum’ size of the VPN market in Iran. Several reports have previously highlighted the multi-billion toman market for VPNs in Iran. In September of this year, Yektanet reported that the financial turnover of this market in 2022 was between 25 and 30 trillion tomans.

The same report stated that the average VPN usage rate in different age groups is 80%, with two out of three Iranian users using VPNs. Notably, 15-17 year olds have the highest VPN usage rate at 97%. Despite the Iranian government filtering thousands of sites and platforms, international organizations have consistently identified this regime as one of the most significant oppressors of the Internet globally.

In addition to international institutions, many centers in Iran have acknowledged this issue. In a report on the internet situation in Iran in July 2023, the Electronic Commerce Association announced that Iran’s internet is among the 100 countries with the highest gross national product. Iran has the second most restricted internet after Myanmar and the second-slowest internet in the world after China. Some regime officials have also raised the issue of a class-divided internet, with people close to the regime having uncensored internet access using special SIM cards, while most people have to use VPNs to access the internet.

Source » irannewsupdate