Users across Iran have taken to social media over the past week to report outages on Waze, a very popular app utilized by Iran’s Snapp and Tap30, two ride-sharing apps similar to Uber.
A temporary ban was implemented after most members of the country’s “Committee for Determining Offensive Content” chose to filter the app citing concerns over its “Zionist directors,” according to Iran state media.
The committee is set to meet Wednesday to make a final decision.
“Café Bazaar,” Iran’s largest Android app store currently posts a message stating, “This product has been removed due to a message from judicial authority.”
‘Waze’, formerly ‘Freemap Israel’, was founded in 2006 by Israeli entrepreneurs Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine as a digital database of the map of Israel.
The app won best overall mobile app at the 2013 Mobile World Congress and was acquired later that year by Google.
Whilst Iranians have access to the internet, the country operates on a highly censored “Halal Intranet,” with many external websites including social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter inaccessible.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard began tracing Internet activity in the aftermath of the 2009 Green Revolution and in 2011, police forces formed the Iranian Cyber Police, or FATA, solely to counter Internet crimes.
The committee overseeing criminal Internet activity includes from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani`s cabinet.
Ironically, Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and many other regime officials have become active on Twitter and Facebook and communicate globally through these platforms.
This past weekend, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerged on Twitter amidst reports of a political comeback.
In recent years, Iranians have become accustomed to accessing mainstream social and information sites through third-party proxies in order to circumvent restrictions and avoid government surveillance.