An Iranian MP has estimated that the annual financial turnover of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in Iran is approximately $900 million amid widespread internet bans.
The revelation stems from a survey conducted by MP Jalal Rashidi Kouchi who calculated that if the minimum monthly price of a VPN in Iran is $2, citizens would be compelled to spend around $480 million annually on these tools to circumvent regime bans on the likes of Instagram and Whatsapp.
He also estimated that the shutdowns on popular apps used for social networking and e-commerce cost the public an additional $400 million.
In September, Yekta Net Advertising Company published a report estimating the market volume of circumvention tools in 2022 to be between $500 million to $600 million. According to the report, 80% of Iranians use VPNs to access social networks, while the Islamic Republic currently restricts access to major international social networks and messaging platforms.
Estimations of VPN sales in Iran in recent years have been approximations due to a lack of transparent data. The estimates typically focus on the direct costs citizens pay to bypass censorship, overlooking government expenses in equipping and maintaining the online censorship system.
Despite the controversies, officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, including Minister Isa Zarepour, have consistently rejected published statistics on the matter, avoiding responsibility.