WhatsApp, illustrative
WhatsApp, illustrativeReuters

Iran has demanded that messaging apps move their data about Iranian users to local servers by May 2017, Reuters reported Sunday night - raising concerns over the right to privacy. 

"Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity," the Supreme Council of Cyberspace broadcasted via state news agency IRNA

The edict is based on the "guidelines and concerns of the supreme leader" - Islamist Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Iran holds some of the strictest social media regulations in the world, blocking Facebook and Twitter, among other social media outlets. Many users evading tough restrictions via virtual private networks (VPNs).

Reuters believes the new rule is aimed at social media app Telegram, a highly encrypted app with 20 million users. 

In November, Tehran arrested at least 20 group administrators on Telegram for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's morality code.

Earlier this month, it arrested eight female Instagram users for not wearing headscarves in their photos; at least one was a well-known fashion model.