Wednesday December 11, 2019
Home Science & Technology Afghanistan t...

Afghanistan temporarily blocks Social Media Services Whatsapp and Telegram citing security concerns

The restrictions on social media come as the Taliban intensifies attacks on Afghan security forces, inflicting heavy casualties.

0
//
Whatsapp and Telegram
A WhatsApp logo is seen behind a smartphone, Feb. 20, 2014. Authorities in Afghanistan are temporarily blocking WhatsApp and Telegram social media services in the country. VOA

Islamabad, November 4, 2017 : Authorities in Afghanistan are temporarily blocking WhatsApp and Telegram social media services in the country, citing security concerns, officials confirmed on November 3.

An official at the Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, ATRA, told VOA the social media tools will be suspended for 20 days. The temporary ban on Whatsapp and Telegram follows a request from state security institutions.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a formal announcement is expected Saturday.

Whatsapp and Telegram
The messaging app Telegram is displayed on a smartphone, July 15, 2017. VOA

ATRA has ordered telecom companies to shut down the services November 1, according to a copy of official instructions appearing in Afghan media.

Social media users have complained of technical problems while using the two services in recent days.

The controversial move has sparked criticism of the Afghan government, and it is being slammed as an illegal act and an attack on freedom of expression.

The outage prompted the telecom regulator to issue a statement Friday, saying the ban is meant to test “a new kind of technology” in the wake of users’ complaints.

It went on to defend the restriction, saying WhatsApp and Telegram are merely voice and messaging services and their temporary suspension does not violate the civil rights of Afghans. The government is committed to freedom of expression, the ministry added.

Afghan journalists and activists on Twitter dismissed the statement.

“This seems to be the beginning of government censorship. If it’s not resisted soon the gov’t will block FB & twitter,” wrote Habib Khan Totakhil on Twitter.

“Gov’t fails to deliver security, now it seeks to hide its incompetence by imposing ban on messaging platforms. Totalitarianism?,” said the Afghan journalist.

“#Censorship is against what freedom we stood for in #Afghanistan post 2001. Gains shouldn’t go to waste,” tweeted activist Nasrat Khalid.

An estimated 6 million people in war-torn Afghanistan can access internet-based services. The growth of media and social media activism have been among the few success stories Afghanistan has seen in the post-Taliban era.

Classifying numbers

The restrictions on social media come as the Taliban intensifies attacks on Afghan security forces, inflicting heavy casualties.

The insurgent group also relies heavily on WhatsApp and Telegram, Twitter and Facebook to publicize its battlefield gains.

The Afghan government has lately barred the United States military from releasing casualty numbers, force strength, operation readiness, attrition figures and performance assessments of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, while briefing members of Congress on Wednesday, severely criticized the classification move. He maintained American taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent.

“The Taliban know this [Afghan casualties], they know who was killed. They know all about that. The Afghans know about it, the U.S. military knows about it. The only people who wouldn’t know are the [American] people who are paying for it,” Sopko noted.

The United States has spent nearly $120 billion on reconstruction programs in Afghanistan since 2002. More than 60 percent of the money has been used to build Afghan security forces. (VOA)

Next Story

WhatsApp to Stop Working on Millions of Older Mobile Devices From Next Year

Reports showed outages across Europe and in the US, Mexico and South America

0
whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

WhatsApp will stop working on millions of older mobile devices globally as the company has withdrawn support for such phones.

The users on Windows Phones will be locked out forever after December 31, said Facebook.

“WhatsApp will stop working on millions of phones in the next couple of months as the company withdraws support for some older mobile platforms.

“From February 1, 2020, any iPhone running iOS 8 or older will no longer be supported, along with any Android device running version 2.3.7 or older,” Facebook said.

“Users of these operating systems are already unable to create new WhatsApp accounts or re-verify existing accounts.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“Furthermore, WhatsApp is withdrawing support for all Windows phones from December 31, 2019 — the same month that Microsoft ends support of its Windows 10 Mobile OS,” the social networking platform added.

Also Read: Having Keto Diet Can Help You Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Research

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and aims to integrate the messaging platform into its other services Messenger and Instagram.

Meanwhile, users around the globe were facing trouble in sending or receiving messages on WhatsApp late Tuesday.

Reports showed outages across Europe and in the US, Mexico and South America. (IANS)