Iran IT minister says blocking Instagram would create new problems

The Instagram logo, as displayed on an Apple iPhone (AFP Photo/JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

Tehran (AFP) - Iran's information technology minister said Tuesday that blocking the photo- and video-sharing application Instagram would only create new problems for the Islamic republic.

"We believe the strategy of filtering Instagram is not an efficient one to neutralise its threats and might even intensify them," Mohammad-Javad Azari-Jahromi told ISNA news agency on the sidelines of a conference on electronic banking in Tehran.

"Acting unilaterally and filtering will not solve any problems on its own, but will only cause challenges in other fields," he said.

In January, Iranian media said the judiciary was mulling a ban on Instagram.

The deputy for cyberspace affairs at the public prosecutor's office, Javad Javidnia, has called Instagram a "disaster" for Iranians and especially its youth, charging the app was being used for "crimes".

"Some says that using Instagram has consequences and that it poses threats, yet many believe that it hosts many businesses and is an important tool in their everyday life," said Azari-Jahromi.

Iran's economy is suffering under US sanctions reimposed after Washington withdrew in May from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Iran has in recent years blocked access to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the judiciary blocked the Telegram messaging app in May.

Instagram remains the last major platform not blocked in the Islamic republic.

Despite the restrictions, Iranians including top officials like President Hassan Rouhani and the IT minister use services such as Twitter, which are widely accessible via proxy servers.