November 06, 2017
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) have expressed serious concern over the blocking of two internet-based messaging services in Afghanistan.
The IFJ urged the Afghan government to withdraw the ban and ensure that the internet-based services remain open to Afghan citizens in order to allow the free flow of information.
The Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) directed the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecommunication service providers to block Telegram and WhatsApp in Afghanistan reportedly for “security reasons”.
The letter by ATRA, dated November 1 and signed by an official of the regulator, directed the blocking of the two services “without delay” for a period of 20 days. Both WhatsApp and Telegram provide encrypted messaging facility.
The AIJA expressed serious concern over the ban and informed the ATRA management about the concerns of the journalist community. Rahimullah Samandar Khan, AIJA President, said: “The AIJA will take a stand against these government orders. Media and Afghan people will be affected by this ban and we think this is direct censorship.”
The IFJ said: "The IFJ is concerned by the ban on WhatsApp and Telegram in Afghanistan as it puts the country among those nations which arbitrarily shut down the internet, thereby disrupting the free flow of information. Shutting down internet does not ensure security, and only promotes rumor mongering. The IFJ urges the Afghan authorities to immediately withdraw the orders.”
The IFJ ran a campaign against internet shutdowns urging governments not to shut down the internet. – IFJ media release
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