Iran: Mark Zuckerberg Needs to Answer Privacy Complaints in Court

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 02:12 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A judge in Iran has demanded that Mark Zuckerberg answer charges that some of his company's applications violate the privacy of citizens in the Middle Eastern nation, but it's unlikely the Facebook founder and CEO will actually appear in court.

Ruhollah Momen Nasab, an official with Iran's paramilitary Basij force, told the country's semi-official news agency INSA that the judge has also ordered the Facebook-owned apps, Instagram and WhatsApp, to be blocked on the country's Internet, Britain's Sky News reported.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are already outlawed in Iran, the news site noted, also adding that, since there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Iran, the chance of Zuckerberg actually traveling to the Middle East for the court date is slim.

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The move comes shortly after a group of young Iranians was arrested for filming a music video parody of Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" and posting it online. They were released last week, according to BBC News.

Iranian police called the video, which showed three men and three unveiled women dancing on the streets and rooftops of Tehran to the Oscar-nominated song, a "vulgar clip" and claimed that it "hurt public chastity," BBC News reported. The video has since been viewed more than 880,000 times on YouTube.

The Associated Press reported that a separate Iranian court ordered a ban on Instagram last week over privacy concerns, but the photo-sharing app was still available to users in Tehran as of Tuesday.

Moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said in the past that he opposes blocking such websites without establishing local alternatives and sees social media as a way of reaching out to the West, according to the AP.

"We should see the cyber world as an opportunity," Rouhani told reporters last week, according to the official IRNA news agency. "Why are we so shaky? Why don't we trust our youth?"

Many Iranians see social media as the spread of Western culture and have accused Rouhani of not doing enough to stop it.

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