Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Indonesia blocks web-based Telegram app

Indonesia blocks web-based Telegram app

Encrypted messaging service Telegram will shut down "terrorist-related" public channels, its founder said on Sunday, after Indonesia's government blocked access to the platform citing security concerns.

"We are forming a dedicated team of moderators with knowledge of Indonesian culture and language to be able to process reports of terrorist-related content more quickly and accurately", he said.

Pavel Durov, founder of the messaging app, said in on Telegram that there had been a "miscommunication" with Indonesian authorities, as he was not aware of a request by the government to take down certain channels.

It said in a statement that numerous app's public channels contained radical propaganda and terrorism-related content.

Telegram had too much content promoting radicalism, extremism and "hatred belief" and needed to be blocked to safeguard the "integrity" of the republic, Indonesia's communication ministry announced on Friday.

"Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we're no friends of terrorists", Mr Durov said on his Telegram channel, adding he was "upset" over Indonesia's ban.

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Samuel Pangerapan, the director general of informatics applications at the ministry, said the app is used to recruit Indonesians into militant groups and to spread hate and methods for carrying out attacks including bomb making.

"If there is no improvement we will really consider closing the platform, we are sorry if we have to because we want to maintain relations so the social media technology can be properly utilised", the minister said, as reported by Detik.

"The Home Ministry, particularly the anti-terrorism unit, has yet to find elements of terrorism recruitment and funding on the application", said Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister.

However, as outlined in its code of conduct, the ICT Ministry can not request a ban or block on any web portal, but instead only processes requests from other government institutions.

Telegram is a free Russian-designed messaging app that lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000. It is not yet clear which government agency or ministry made the initial request to the ministry to block access to Telegram's web portal.

Its strong encryption has contributed to its popularity with those concerned about privacy and secure communications in the digital era but also attracted armed groups and other criminal elements.

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