Afghan Government Moves to Block WhatsApp, Telegram Messaging Services

Afghanistan's government has ordered a block on messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram, according to a letter sent to the country's internet providers that was widely shared over social media on Saturday.

The letter was reportedly sent to Afghan ISPs after the country's National Directorate for Security ordered the move, in what some observers believe is an attempt to prevent use of the encrypted messaging services by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

According to Reuters, the letter by telecoms regulator ATRA, dated November 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed internet companies to block Telegram and Facebook's WhatsApp services "without delay" for a period of 20 days.

However, the temporary ban does not yet appear to have been enforced, with both services said to be still working normally on Saturday on both state-owned operator Salaam and private service providers.


Public use of mobile phones has boomed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was removed from power by a U.S-led campaign in 2001, while use of services like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Viber are popular among the country's politicians as well as the Taliban, which also maintains a sophisticated social media operation.

However, civil rights groups and Afghan social media users have criticized the attempt to block the chat platforms. Many argue such a ban is unenforceable anyway because it can be circumvented by the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

Prominent newspaper editor Parwiz Kawa told the BBC that his country was finally an open society after years of censorship, therefore any ban on social media would not be tolerated.

"The public reaction - including our own front page - is to resist," he said. "We can't tolerate any ban on social media or any censorship."

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14 months ago
Turkey was once a beacon of hope in the middle east. Look at them now.
Rating: 5 Votes
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14 months ago
Hm.

Bizarrely, and sadly, I can see both sides of this argument.
Rating: 4 Votes
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14 months ago

iMessage, Signal, Wicker, any VPN, all still available. Oh noes!

And I'm sure terrorists will adhere to your legislated mandate.


It’s not about the terrorists adhereing, it’s about the ISP’s blocking the services.
Rating: 2 Votes
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14 months ago

It's just part of the Afghan "elites" trying to hold on to power. One of the most corrupt countries extant.


A very narrow view of Afghanistan. And any other country with a centralized government system where it's rulers are NOT held equally accountable for anything against he law ... isn't corrupt?
Rating: 2 Votes
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14 months ago

A very narrow view of Afghanistan. And any other country with a centralized government system where it's rulers are NOT held equally accountable for anything against he law ... isn't corrupt?


A very informed view of Afghanistan, having spent three years in-country, working with a variety of "officials."

Can you describe your on the ground experience there?
Rating: 1 Votes
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14 months ago

A very informed view of Afghanistan, having spent three years in-country, working with a variety of "officials."

Can you describe your on the ground experience there?


In what capacity, might I ask?

And, in your on the ground experience, did you never meet any non-corrupt individuals, or officials?

I will say that the media in Afghanistan is unusually free and well informed, and the country - regions, and ethic groups are not all equally corrupt, and not all equally 'traditional'; different political and social cultures are found in different regions of that tragic country (and yes, I don't deny that much of their tragedy - though by no means all - is self-inflicted).
Rating: 1 Votes
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14 months ago
Well, that’s against our democracy.
Time to invade ladies and gentlemen!!!
Rating: 1 Votes
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14 months ago
The terrorist have won again by making the government screw over their law abiding citizens.
[doublepost=1509864262][/doublepost]

Terrorists aren't that dumb. Hope, we all become Japan one day.

What does Japan have to do with this?
Rating: 1 Votes
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14 months ago
It's just part of the Afghan "elites" trying to hold on to power. One of the most corrupt countries extant.
Rating: 1 Votes
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14 months ago
Terrorists aren't that dumb. Hope, we all become Japan one day.
Rating: 1 Votes
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