Telegram, a successful safe and encrypted messaging application has attracted much attention worldwide including in Indonesia, although this last market has become more unstable in the past week. On the morning of July 14, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Informatics blocked Telegram in the country with reason that Telegram could “endanger National’s security because the unavailability of the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in handling terrorism cases.” In an official statement, the General Director of the Ministry of Applications and Informatics said that there are lots of threats in the applications from radicalism and terrorism contents which could endanger national security. In a statement on their website, the ministry stated,
“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 itself has experienced a string of terrorist activity that has as of late left the country reeling. Recently, there was a suicide bombing at a bus station in Jakarta, resulting in three deaths. Indonesia’s ministry is seemingly connecting the two phenomena, linking the recent attacks to an increase in radicalization by terrorist organizations like ISIS. The crackdown on Telegram is due in part to it having a channel feature which allegedly helping terrorist-related content spread easily.
The Communications Ministry added that both the mobile application and the desktop version of Telegram would be blocked throughout Indonesia. They have yet to comment on whether or not they would take similar action against other messaging platforms.
It seems like Indonesia’s action against Telegram has caught the attention of its creators, with its CEO Pavel Durov tweeting a message which he broadcasted in his Telegram’s channel, in which he expressed concern about the situation and promised to redress the situation.
The ministry’s actions sparked a public outcry in Indonesia, with backlash being seen on Twitter and Facebook in response to the ban and some users reporting they were unable to access the web.telegram.org domain. The widespread reaction comes as no surprise, as Indonesians are among the world’s most active users of social media. It wasn’t long before a petition on Change.org to end the blocking of Telegram was created.
This isn’t the first time Indonesia has blocked a social media or website. Previously Indonesia has blocked Vimeo, Reddit, Imgur, 4chan, and Tumblr. The petition calling for the unblocking of Tumblr was successful, and supporters of free speech, internet freedom, and Telegram users are hoping for a repeat.