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Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp & Mark Zuckerberg: Iranian Court Summons Facebook Founder to Court Over Privacy Breach

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First Posted: May 27, 2014 12:14 PM EDT
Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been ordered to appear in an Iranian court by a judge in South Iran over individual complaints by people who claim that Facebook-owned applications Instagram and Whatsapp violate their privacy, reported the state news agency ISNA on Tuesday.

The conservative court, which is located in the southern province of Fars, filed the cases against the social networks after citizens reported a breach of privacy, reports Reuters. Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian Internet official, added that the judge also ordered the two apps to be blocked.

"According to the court's ruling, the Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses," said Momen-Nasab, referencing Zuckerberg as a "Zionist," reported the ISNA.

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The case highlights mounting conflict over Internet freedom between moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who wishes to increase Internet liberty, and the conservative judiciary, which favors tighter Internet control.

Despite the summons, Zuckerberg will more than likely not appear in the Iranian court since an extradition treaty between Iran and the United States does not exist.

Last week, another Iranian court ordered the blocking of Instagram over privacy concerns. However, users in the capital, Tehran, could still access both applications by noon on Tuesday. 

Although social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are officially banned in the country, top officials have unfettered access to social media and many younger Iranians use proxy servers to bypass the controls on banned sites.

President Rouhani is opposed to blocking such websites, which he and his administration has used to reach out to the West as it negotiates with world powers over the country's nuclear program.

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

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