Afghan Government Moves to Block WhatsApp, Telegram Messaging Services

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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."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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36 months ago
Turkey was once a beacon of hope in the middle east. Look at them now.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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36 months ago
Hm.

Bizarrely, and sadly, I can see both sides of this argument.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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36 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?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 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.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 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?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
36 months ago
It's just part of the Afghan "elites" trying to hold on to power. One of the most corrupt countries extant.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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