The Iraqi Ministry of Communications has blocked the Telegram messaging service. The department says it is concerned about national security. In addition, the government wants to protect users’ personal data with the blockade.
That writes the American news agency Reuters.
Telegram is widely used as an independent news source
Telegram is a messaging application that many consider an alternative to WhatsApp. Although the standard chats in Telegram are not secured with end-to-end encryption, this function can be activated by creating a ‘Secret Chat’. All messages, photos, videos and other files that are then sent can only be read by the sender and the recipient. The chat app has more than 500 million users worldwide.
Because of its built-in security to keep conversations private, Telegram is popular in countries ruled by an authoritarian regime. The chat service is also used as an independent news source and for sharing content that is normally not accessible. Some groups contain large amounts of personal information about Iraqis, including names and addresses, Reuters knows.
Ministry says it respects freedom of expression
The Iraqi Ministry of Communications issued a press release about the blockade last weekend. According to the statement, the department has asked Telegram to “shut down platforms that leak the data of official state institutions and citizens’ personal data.” The ministry states that Telegram has not complied with the request, nor has it responded to it.
“The Ministry of Communications affirms its respect for citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and communication, without prejudice to the security of the state and its institutions,” the department said in a statement, according to Reuters.
IS active on Telegram
An Islamic State (IS) spokesman made himself heard via Telegram last Thursday. The terror organization confirmed that IS leader Abu Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurashi is dead. Furthermore, IS announced that Abi Hafsan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi is his successor.