Originally published on Rest of World on September 24, 2021
Firuzeh Mahmoudi is executive director of United for Iran, a nonprofit working to advance civil liberties in Iran and the home of IranCubator, which supports innovations for the country. Their newest product, Nahoft, is an encryption app that scrambles Farsi text into random words — effectively allowing Iranians to send disguised messages over any chat platform, provided the recipient also uses Nahoft to decipher the message.
What’s the role you see the Iranian diaspora playing in maintaining internet freedoms within the country?
When I could not go home to Iran, I had to ask myself ‘What can I do from outside?’. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are certain things we can do from outside that only those of us outside can do. We have capacity—we have an NGO we can go fundraise for, we have the time and resources to build an app like Nahoft. Whereas inside Iran, you’d get arrested so you don’t get resources for this kind of work. And we have the space to do this work without risking our personal security. Iranians are very tech savvy by necessity, but there just aren’t the resources for something like this.