Indonesia Blocks Telegram Messaging Service Over Security Concerns.
The tech industry has been called upon by multiple sources to step in and take a more active role in thwarting terrorism. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have been loudly criticized for not doing more to curb suspected terrorists’ accounts, allowing the groups to continue to recruit and communicate. Other sites have been derided for not stopping what some call hate-speech, which allegedly fuels violent sentiments.
Whether due to public pressure or government sanctions is undetermined, but encrypted messaging app Telegram is now reportedly taking down accounts that the Indonesian government has pointed to as belonging to terrorist groups. Telegram took this action in order to avoid having their platform blocked entirely within the country.
“This has to be done because there are many channels on this service that are full of radical and terrorist propaganda, hatred, ways to make bombs, how to carry out attacks, disturbing images, which are all in conflict with Indonesian law,” Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said in a statement on its website.
A statement from Telegram’s founder openly acknowledged that they already seek out terror cell accounts and block thousands of them every month. However, they will now work with the Indonesian government to remove accounts that have been deemed a threat and have set up their own in-house team of knowledgeable technicians to spot and remove accounts, specifically ones related to ISIS.
Obviously, this doesn’t sit well with privacy and free speech advocates. It’s one thing to employ trained experts who have firsthand experience with the language and culture, but something else altogether to remove accounts based on a list compiled by the government. The fact that Telegram’s website has already been blocked within the country is bad enough, but the government has threatened to remove access to the app if the developers don’t take satisfactory action.