Policy To Block Access Telegram : Efforts To Tackle Radical And Terrorist Propaganda
Indonesia on Friday (14/07) blocked access to the encrypted messaging service Telegram, citing concerns that it was being used to spread “radical and terrorist propaganda” in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. The move comes amid heightened concerns over the growing presence and influence of Islamic State in Southeast Asia as the jihadist group loses territory in Syria and Iraq.
Indonesia itself has seen a resurgence in home-grown militancy, inspired in large part by Islamic State; a twin suicide bombing at a Jakarta bus station in May killed three police officers and injured several others. It has stepped up anti-terrorism cooperation with Malaysia and the Philippines. Both the mobile application and the desktop version of Telegram would be blocked throughout Indonesia. It did not say if it would take similar action against other messaging platforms.
Telegram is a messaging platform known to be popular among Islamic State sympathisers, who use chatrooms with hundreds of members as well as private conversations.
Many messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram offer end-to-end encryption from sender to recipient, which means not even the companies providing the platform can see the messages.
Security officials in several countries have complained that the apps provide a safe space for militants to communicate with each other. Several governments, including those of Australia and Britain, have urged technology companies to do more to help security agencies thwart security threats. In March, an attacker on London’s Westminster Bridge was reported to have sent encrypted messages moments before ploughing his car into pedestrians, killing four people, and fatally stabbing a police officer. British interior minister Amber Rudd said at the time that such encryption was “unacceptable.” (http://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-blocks-telegram-messaging-service-security-concerns/)
Responding to the Indonesian goverment policy, the co-founder of encrypted messaging service Telegram announced on Sunday (16/07) that the app has blocked access to all public channels that the Indonesian government believes contains terror-related propaganda. Pavel Durov, co-founder and chief executive of Telegram, said the messaging app has established a team of moderators who have a good understanding of Indonesia and its language to better detect and and delete terrorism propaganda.
Durov’s comments come following the government’s move on Friday to limit access to the app, threatening a total ban in the future if the service fails to clamp down on material it deems dangerous. Durov, who founded the app with his brother Nikolai in 2013, said: “A lot of Telegram’s early adopters come from Indonesia,” and now the messaging service has “several million users” in the country.
“I am personally a big fan of Indonesia. I’ve been there a few times and have many friends there. So it made me upset to hear that the Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology suggested they would have to block Telegram in Indonesia,” Durov said in a message to his roughly 40,000 followers on Telegram. He said ICT Ministry officials recently emailed the company a list of public channels that the ministry suspected of being a haven for terrorism-related content. “Our team was unable to quickly process them. Unfortunately, I was unaware of these requests, which caused this miscommunication with the ministry,” Durov added.
The National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian told reporters on Sunday that Telegram is a favored application for terrorists and terror sympathizers, due largely to the app’s heavily encrypted system that can accommodate up to 10,000 members in individual channels, making it hard for authorities to detect any terrorism-related messaging. Tito said perpetrators involved in the suicide bombing on the Kampung Melayu bus station in East Jakarta in May and the attack in Thamrin, Central Jakarta in January 2016 used Telegram to coordinate the attacks.
No Friend of Terrorists : identifying and blocking terrorist propaganda in the future
Despite championing privacy for its users, Dubrov said Telegram has been involved in a war to fight terrorists by making it difficult for them to communicate on its platform. As of July 14, Telegram has banned 3,169 Islamic State-related bots and channels in the first two weeks of this month alone. But, telegram also offers “Secret Chat,” which uses end-to-end encryption and leaves no traces on its servers.
“We’re constantly striving to be more efficient at preventing terrorist propaganda, and are always open to ideas on how to get better at this,” he said, adding he is confident that both Indonesia and Telegram can efficiently eradicate terrorist propaganda without disrupting millions of Telegram users in the country.
The director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Sidney Jones, told the Jakarta Globe on Saturday that Telegram “is considered safe, even though many governments have the technology to read it.” She pointed out that the platform has indeed been used to spread radicalized messages and has served as a place of recruitment for terrorists.
I think the policy of the Indonesian government to block Telegram must be supported because its has launched to intend and minimalize “clear and present danger” based on massive spreading radicalism and terrorism campaign at Telegram. Even, the Russian government had been blocked Telegram previously to tackle the same threat.
Combating radical and terror narrative spreading at social media must be taken because the successful of its would be endangered humankind in the future and the situation must have fragiled and long lasting uncertainty if radical and terror spirit and those groups have not been finished to minimalize it.
Because of that, the Indonesian government should have closed dialogue and didn’t give a chance to Telegram can exist again. However, those policy is on the track as a efforts to tackle and to curb radical and terror narrative spreading at social media.
*) Bayu Kusuma, Social and Political Observer in Cersia, Jakarta