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EghtesadOnline: President Hassan Rouhani said the digital revolution has turned social media platforms into a barometer of a state’s legitimacy.

The president made the statement at Smart Iran Summit held at Iran’s International Conference Center late Wednesday, which hosted representatives from international agencies and regional countries, including Russia, Qatar and Azerbaijan.

During his address, Rouhani said the digital revolution’s impact has not been limited to the economy. 

“Social media platforms have eased public participation in sociopolitical and cultural developments. People on social media review statesmen’s activities and rate their performance,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

According to Rouhani, social media can be considered a barometer of states’ legitimacy.

“Social media platforms have facilitated fundamental developments in the fields of economy, environment and public communications,” he added.

While the president praises the important role played by these platforms in national governance and development, most social media services are blocked in Iran. 

The most popular platform in the country is Telegram with over 40 million users, which has been blocked in Iran for more than a year with people using VPN or proxy services to connect to the service. The same scenario applies to Facebook and Twitter, although they have been blocked for close to a decade.

Rouhani also said, “We are living in an era where major powers try to impose their will [on other nations] through unilateralism, sanctions and cyber hegemony. [To repel these acts] there is no way but independence, collaboration with other nations and scientific development.”

On the sidelines of the summit, managers of several Iranian startups met with the president behind closed doors. After the meeting, Rouhani heaped praise on startups for creating jobs and making life easier for people. 

Without singling out a firm, he said, “One of these startups have created 1.6 million jobs in four years.”

He also noted that with the help of a local startup, saffron farmers can now directly get connected to customers, curbing the share of dealers and easing business. 

According to Rouhani, cyberspace and startups play a pivotal and undeniable role in every socioeconomic development, including environment and water management.



Red Tape, Outdated Business Laws

According to the president, red tape and the inherent bureaucracy in the system, coupled with outdated laws and regulations—which in some cases date back to half a century ago—have hampered business and startups’ growth in Iran.

Rouhani said, “There is a heavy burden on the government’s back” to cut red tapes and overhaul business laws to boost economic growth.

Access to low cost and safe communication services were also listed as essential factors for national development by the president.

ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi also told the gathering, “Governments should move away from merely regulating the e-commerce sector and toward facilitating business.”

Pointing to the Startup Action Plan unveiled on July 10, the minister said it aims to ease business for startups and tech firms. It envisions incentives for boosting local startups and innovative firms. 

All startups possessing prerequisites listed in the plan can make use of these incentives, including a three-year tax holiday.



Other Participants

Along with Iranian officials, the summit was addressed by Deputy Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union Malcolm Johnson, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity’s Secretary-General Areewan Haorangsi and the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications’ Executive Committee Director General Nurudin N. Mukhitdinov.

Communication ministers from Russian and Azerbaijani, Konstantin Noskov and Ramin Namiq Oglu Guluzade, along with the head of Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority Omer Abdullah Karagozoglu also participated in the summit.

Some of the other local figures participating in the event were Intelligence Minister Mohammad Alavi-Tabar, President’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi, the head of Iran IT Organization Amir Nazemi, the head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari, Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi and Secretary of Iran Supreme Council of Cyberspace Abolhassan Firouzabadi.

The summit was held a day before the 25th International Exhibition of Electronics, Computers and e-Commerce (Elecomp 2019), that continues until Saturday night.


Iran Hassan Rouhani Rouhani social media Barometer State Legitimacy digital revolution social media platforms