Iran's judiciary has banned the popular Telegram instant messaging app to protect national security, Iran's state TV reported Monday.
"Considering various complaints against Telegram social networking app by Iranian citizens, and based on the demand of security organizations for confronting the illegal activities of Telegram, the judiciary has banned its usage in Iran," TV reported.
The order was issued days after Iran banned government bodies from using Telegram, which is widely used by Iranian state media, politicians, companies and ordinary Iranians.
A widespread government internet filter prevents Iranians from accessing many sites on the official grounds that they are offensive or criminal.
But many Iranians evade the filter through use of VPN software, which provides encrypted links directly to private networks based abroad, and can allow a computer to behave as if it is based in another country.
"The blocking of Telegram app should be in a way to prevent users from accessing it with VPN or any other software," Fars said. The app had over 40 million users in Iran.