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WhatsApp-Telegram Suspension Orders: Afghanistan

Afghanistan has directed the officials for the suspension of two majorly used apps which are WhatsApp and Telegram namely, for resolving some “technical problems”. In response to this decision, social media was bombarded with outcries among the active social media users.

WhatsApp and Telegram are among the most popular and widely used apps among the smartphone using Afghans. These apps are also used by the Taliban and Islamic State Jihadists.

Najib Nangyalay—Spokesperson of the Ministry informed that the order given so far is just being followed by only one internet provider Salaam Network owned by Afghanistan. The order was to suspend the provision of the two said apps from November 1st till November 20th.

He said that they are busy in the testing of some new technology and pertaining to that WhatsApp and Telegram would be temporarily blocked.

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He also mentioned that this decision is not against the right of freedom of speech in Afghanistan as people would still be having access to Twitter, Facebook. He said that they believe in the right of expressing freely.

Shahzad Aryobee—Acting Minister-Telecommunications said that the decision taken was because of the unsatisfactory services provided by the two apps.

He further added that Ministry of Telecommunication and Information are thinking and working on launching a new technology so that the services and technical issues of these two apps could be improved and resolved.

Testing is a time taking procedure and would require temporary blocking of the two apps WhatsApp and Telegram.

One of the Facebook active users Abdullah posted that the decision is not tolerable and is just the start of censorship by the Afghanistan government and to take control over the virtual world.

One of the telecommunications official mocked at the claim of introducing new technology by government and said it could never match the standards of the foreign apps.

WhatsApp is famous because of the less data consumption with good quality. He mentioned that if the app is blocked people could access it using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Presently 8 million people residing in Afghanistan majorly in the significant cities could access the internet. And many of the users uses via mobile phones.

Parwiz Kawa—a prominent newspaper editor while talking to BBC said that finally Afghanistan was a free society after many years of censorship and no ban on social media would be entertained well among the masses. Public along with our own paper’s front page would show resistance to this decision.

He further added that if Taliban or any other are incorporating these apps then better find out who they are, just do not ban the apps altogether as Afghanistan is in a developing state and any such kind of decision may prove sensitive.

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