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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.

Afghan government instructed telecom companies to shutdown @WhatsApp & @telegram in Afghanistan. Reason unknown. #AFG pic.twitter.com/l156HBC0ri - Ahmad Mukhtar (@AhMukhtar) November 2, 2017

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.

Article Link: Afghan Government Moves to Block WhatsApp, Telegram Messaging Services
 

Naimfan

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Jan 15, 2003
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It's just part of the Afghan "elites" trying to hold on to power. One of the most corrupt countries extant.
 
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Naimfan

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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?

A very informed view of Afghanistan, having spent three years in-country, working with a variety of "officials."

Can you describe your on the ground experience there?
 
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Solomani

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They're not a democratic culture. It's quite rare for any majority Muslim country to even embrace free speech, especially with the loose mouth of the internets. Why is this even news? Even the co-called "most secular Islamic nation", Turkey, is not very secular, is not very democratic, and hardly embraces free speech….. just as Erdogan and his soldiers have arrested or murdered thousands of journalists in the past year.
 
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MacBH928

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May 17, 2008
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a terrorist can buy and smmuggle weapons, train soldiers, but can not own a phone with a VPN service? hmmm...
 
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Scepticalscribe

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A very informed view of Afghanistan, having spent three years in-country, working with a variety of "officials."

Can you describe your on the ground experience there?

In what capacity, might I ask?

And, in your on the ground experience, did you never meet any non-corrupt individuals, or officials?

I will say that the media in Afghanistan is unusually free and well informed, and the country - regions, and ethic groups are not all equally corrupt, and not all equally 'traditional'; different political and social cultures are found in different regions of that tragic country (and yes, I don't deny that much of their tragedy - though by no means all - is self-inflicted).
 
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villicodelirant

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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?

You do realize that most western countries fit that description, since there is a central government (duh) and elected officials usually have some form of immunity making them not "equally accountable"?
 
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Naimfan

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In what capacity, might I ask?

And, in your on the ground experience, did you never meet any non-corrupt individuals, or officials?

I will say that the media in Afghanistan is unusually free and well informed, and the country - regions, and ethic groups are not all equally corrupt, and not all equally 'traditional'; different political and social cultures are found in different regions of that tragic country (and yes, I don't deny that much of their tragedy - though by no means all - is self-inflicted).

I've spent time there in special warfare, MISO, and joint staff; my role was always rather fluid.

I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone I worked with who was not "corrupt" as Westerners understand the term - let's just say that the ideas of the Magna Carta and 14th Amendment have not translated there.

And while some of the tragedy is indeed self-inflicted, the British must bear much of the blame in the entire region.
 
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DeepIn2U

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May 30, 2002
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You do realize that most western countries fit that description, since there is a central government (duh) and elected officials usually have some form of immunity making them not "equally accountable"?

I know that. You’d have gotten that if you read my post a little more attentively ;) you’re stating exactly my point ;) I guess my wording or grammar was way off.
 
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