Iran is the first country to officially ban Pokémon Go for unspecified “security concerns.” The decision was made by the country’s High Council of Virtual Spaces, the body responsible for overseeing the nation’s online activity.
Iranian officials reportedly contacted Niantic Inc. developers before placing the nationwide ban last week. According to The Guardian, Pokémon Go may not have been banned had the game’s creators accommodated Iranian officials’ requests. Authorities wanted data servers transferred inside the country and certain locations in the game excluded, citing security reasons.
Head of Iran’s supreme council of virtual space, Abolhasan Firouzabadi, told ISNA news agency:
“Any game that wants to operate nationwide in Iran needs to obtain permission from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, and the Pokémon Go app has not yet requested such a permission.”
Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, a senior judicial official, expressed concern over possible problems last week.
“There are many problems with the game and security-wise, it can create problems for the country and our people.”
Iran became the first country ever to ban the augmented reality game that has been gaining popularity across the world since its release in July. Despite the restriction, Iranians are still discussing Pokémon Go on social media and catching Pokémon. In order to do so, many people use anti-filtering software to overcome state restrictions.
In the past, millions of netizens have successfully migrated to another platform when the government issued a new ban. Both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in the country, but millions of Iranians use the social media sites.
Pokémon Go was recently made available in a number of Asian and Oceanian countries. These territories include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.
Eager fans in China, India, and Korea, however, are still waiting.