Pokémon Go banned in Iran due to "security concerns"
Also deemed sacrilegious.
Pokémon Go has been banned in Iran due to "security concerns".
As reported by the BBC, Iran's High Council of Virtual Spaces, an official body governing online activity, made the ruling.
Allegedly the Iranian government was hoping Pokémon Go developer Niantic would negotiate some new terms with it, but this never happened.
It's unclear exactly what security concerns Iran's High Council of Virtual Spaces is talking about, though there has been controversy over how much data the developer can access from its users. At one point a security analyst claimed that the developer would be granted full access to one's Google Account, though Niantic later told Polygon that it was only able to see players' User ID and email address and gaining even this much information was a bug that was being worked on.
Another likely reason for the ban is due to the game's content butting heads with the Islamic country's religious regime.
Back in 2001 the Pokémon card game had been been banned via a fatwa (religious ruling) by Iran's General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars. The reasoning was that it contained "forbidden images", like crosses and a six-pointed star, thought to be propaganda for Christianity and Judaism respectively. The council also considered the popular card game to be a form of gambling, which is illegal in Iran.
The BBC reported that Saudi Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan believed that Pokémon Go fell under the same fatwa as the card game over 15 years ago. The fatwa itself isn't necessarily a law for the entire nation, however. Depending on its popularity with the council, a fatwa could only be enacted in certain territories overseen by the scholar who proposed it.
This isn't the first time a video game developer has been deemed a security risk in Iran. The Iranian-born Navid Khonsari was accused of being a US spy in an Iranian tabloid because he was making 1979 Revolution, a game about the country's famous cultural revolt. Granted, this was not an official government mandate, but it was enough to make Khonsari too spooked to set foot back in his homeland.