Afghanistan orders WhatsApp ban

AfricaNews.com:-Afghanistan has sparked an outcry after it moved to block WhatsApp and Telegram messaging services.

Journalists, media groups and users of social media have accused the government of censorship after the move.

But government figure said the decision posed no threat to Afghans’ freedom of expression.

It is believed calls for a ban may have been initiated to stop the Taliban and other insurgent groups from communicating via the encrypted messaging apps.

WhatsApp and Telegram are often used by militant groups to avoid government surveillance.

Earlier in the week officials at the body which regulates telecommunications in Afghanistan confirmed they had written to service providers to ask for a temporary, 20-day ban for security reasons.

But acting Telecommunications Minister Shahzad Aryobee also posted a message on Facebook saying the regulator had been asked to enforce a gradual block on messaging services to solve technical problems after several complaints.

Complaints about audibility and signal strength are common in Afghanistan.

Aryobee wrote: “The government is committed to freedom of speech and knows that it is a basic civil right for our people.”

The ban is yet to have been enforced.

Prominent newspaper editor Parwiz Kawa told the BBC the move was a retrograde step and would not be tolerated.

Mobile services have rapidly expanded in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, have refused to comment.

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