Iranians use Israeli app Waze in recent round of protests – report

Italian daily 'La Repubblica' reported that the protesters managed to communicate where to drive and leave their cars to maximize the disruption using Waze.

People stop their cars in a highway to show their protest for increased gas price in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019 (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA VIA REUTERS)
People stop their cars in a highway to show their protest for increased gas price in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019
(photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA VIA REUTERS)
After the Iranian government announced Friday that it would double the price of gasoline, riots broke out all over the country.
Iranians have taken their frustration with the new policy both to social media and to the streets by deliberately creating traffic jams – and according to the Italian daily La Repubblica, the Israeli navigation app Waze has been instrumental in this protest.
La Repubblica reported on Sunday that the protesters managed to communicate where to drive and leave their cars to maximize the disruption using Waze.
 
New York Times journalist Farnaz Fassihi also tweeted a screenshot of Google Maps depicting Tehran's traffic jams.
Iranian Internet access was curbed this week by order of a state security council, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, an attempt apparently aimed at preventing protesters from communicating with each other and sharing video on social media.
Internet watchdog NetBlocks said on Sunday that connectivity had fallen to just 5% of ordinary levels.
 
The move was condemned by US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
According to a 2018 report by Calcalist, Tehran authorities have attempted to block the use of Waze in Iran in the past, claiming that the app, which was acquired by Google in 2013, was developed by Israeli intelligence services.
At the end of October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that following tighter US sanctions, Iran was expected to have a fiscal deficit of 4.5% this year and 5.1% next year.
In announcing the rise in gasoline prices, the Iranian government said that the decision was intended to raise around $2.55 billion a year for extra subsidies to 18 million families - or roughly 60 million Iranians on low incomes.
According to the NYT, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said that Iran faced a deficit amounting to nearly two-thirds of its annual $45 billion budget.
On Monday, Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned anti-government protesters of "decisive" action if unrest does not cease.
Reuters contributed to this report.