Iran’s “Managing Social Messaging Apps” Bill Returns to Parliament

If passed, the “Managing Social Messaging Apps” bill could heavily diminish digital rights in Iran.

Background // The Bill’s Origins

The first draft of the “Managing Social Messaging Apps” bill was handed to Majles’s Leadership Committee on 18 November 2018, with a total 95 supporting signatures from MPs. It was introduced as one of six major internet-related bills: eGovernance, Electronic Transaction, Electronic Identification, Intermediary Liability, Data Protection and Online Privacy and Managing Social Messaging Applications) unveiled in 2018.

The First Draft // Promoting Domestic Messaging, Demoting Digital Rights

The “Managing Social Messaging Apps” bill was brought forward in the name of promoting the use of domestic messaging apps by introducing significant levels of state oversight concerning the operation, use and management of messaging apps, both domestic and foreign. The majority of these tasks were proposed to be undertaken by a new Oversight Committee that deals exclusively with regulating messaging apps. This committee would include some existing members of the Supreme Council for Cyberspace (SCC), and the bill made clear that the committee must follow the SCC’s mandate (Article 4).

Support for the Bill Wavers // The Bill is Sent for Expert Review

The proposed involvement of the armed forces in “digital security” signalled the creation of fresh, legally entrenched control and surveillance mechanisms, which would also allow for the monitoring of mobile phones and users of messaging apps led to concerns about the overall intentions of the bill.

The Bill Returns to Majles // Some Important Changes Recommended

The Parliamentary Research Centre’s review was completed in late 2019, and the bill — along with a series of the body’s recommendations — was returned to the Parliamentary Cultural Committee during the final months of 2019 for approval.

Recent Events and the Future of the Bill // What Can be Done

As mentioned, the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Research Centre are currently being reviewed by the Parliamentary Cultural Committee who have reportedly made some progress having approved the initial articles of the bill.