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Signal Is Asking People Around the World to Help Iranians Access the Encrypted App

Signal Is Asking People Around the World to Help Iranians Access the Encrypted App

In this illustration, the Signal logo appears in the background of the silhouette of a hand holding a mobile phone.

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Popular encrypted chat app Signal is trying to help Iranians use the app, which is banned in the country, by asking people to set up proxy servers that can help Iranians circumvent government censorship.

Last week, Iranian morality police They arrested and beat Mahsa Amini, A 22-year-old woman, for not wearing her hijab properly as per strict state rules. Soon after, Amini fell into a coma and died in custody. Iranian authorities said Amini died of a heart attack during what they described as a „re-education“ session. Her family alleged that she sustained a head injury from the beatings.

Amini’s death It has since sparked protests across the country That some have long considered the biggest and most powerful rejection of the morality police, and the country’s order.

The Iranian government, as it has done in the past, is suffocating or Completely block internet access In some cities and regions such as the capital, Tehran. The government has also banned access to Instagram and WhatsApp, which are the only Western social media and chat apps available in the country. Instagram in particular It was incredibly popular in the past few yearsIran essentially gave up trying to censor it when the company switched to encrypting all of its users‘ traffic, Making it impossible to block certain posts.

Signal blocked in the country since last year. Now, the Signal Foundation behind the app wants to help users bypass the ban by contacting the agent worldwide.

„[It] Easy to set up, it can be used to bypass a network block, and it will securely route traffic to the Signal service,” Meredith Whitaker, president of the Signal Foundation and also a member of the board of directors, said. wrote on Thursday.

Although it is easy to launch new agents if one of them is banned, we want to do everything we can to make things as difficult for the Iranian censors as possible. As long as there are servers in the world, Whitaker wrote, there is no limit to the number of Signal TLS proxies that people can run.

Are you working on technologies to help Iranians communicate and bypass censorship? We love to hear from you. You can safely contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai on Signal at +1917257 1382, Wickr/Telegram/Wirelorenzofb, or email lorenzofb@vice.com

In the blog post, Whitaker explained how anyone could set up a proxy server, which would allow users in Iran to use the app with an Android phone. The blog post also included step-by-step instructions that people can use to operate the proxies.

At the end of the proxy server setup process, the person who set it up gets a URL starting with „signal.tube“. From the point of view of an Iranian who wants to use Signal, contacting the agent should require clicking on this link. In the worst case scenario, Signal has instructions on how to use proxies as well.

That’s why Signal asks people to publicize the fact that they run agents using the hashtag #IRanASignalProxyso people in Iran can get these links.

Signal Already created a method For people to act as agents last year, after the Iranian government banned the app. The organization has now updated the instructions and Post it on GitHub too.

“Like everyone else in the world, people in Iran deserve privacy. We hope this helps,” Whitaker wrote.

Signal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nariman Gharib, a UK-based Iranian opposition activist, told Motherboard that Signal’s proposal was a „great idea“.

I hope the government will not be able to take the fingerprints of its agents. But I think the community can take their time and resources to create Tor bridges, so that people can use them for other applications as well,” Gharib said in an online chat.

Update, September 23, 1:38 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include more details on how to access Signal proxy servers from inside Iran.

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