Indonesia has blocked access to the encrypted messaging service Telegram over claims that users were spreading “radical and terrorist propaganda”.
The block, which was imposed on Friday, has prompted Telegram founder Pavel Durov’s avowal to shut down any “terrorist-related” public channels. Indonesia Communications Minister Rudiantara said that Telegram had not complied quickly enough with government requests to remove “radical” content. Indonesian President Joko Widodo confirmed that no other social media firms had been blocked under the government orders.
Durov deemed the request a “miscommunication”, saying that he had not been made aware of any orders to block channels. He confirmed that Telegram had moved to block certain channels that the Indonesian government had accused of harbouring terrorism-related material. “Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we’re no friends of terrorists,” stated Durov.
Telegram’s high security encryption has led to accusations that it enables safe communication among terrorists, although it is far from the only service that offers end-to-end encryption - WhatsApp is a prominent example. This means that the companies which provide the service cannot read users’ messages.
Security authorities in many countries have claimed that national security is more important than user privacy, arguing that encrypted messaging enables terrorists to communicate without fear of surveillance and calling for technology firms to cooperate with security services. However, this has been met with resistance due to concerns that any ‘backdoor’ access could expose user data to hackers.
In June, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that terrorist attacks in the country had been planned using Telegram. At the time, the service was already under threat of being banned by Russian regulator Roskomnadzor for not disclosing information about its controlling firm.