Iraq Suspends Telegram Messaging App Due to National Security Concerns

The Iraqi Ministry of Communication also emphasized its respect for its citizens’ right to freedom of expression and communication, but stated that it cannot be at the expense of national security.

The government of Iraq announced the suspension of the Telegram messaging application across the entire country, citing significant national security concerns.

Telegram App in Iraq

Telegram enjoyed widespread popularity in Iraq, as it served as a communication tool for numerous individuals and organizations, including armed factions and pro-Iran political parties. The app amassed millions of users in the country who relied on it for interactions, and the ban will inevitably impact the ease with which they connect and exchange data.

The Iraqi Ministry of Communication argues that Telegram’s usage compromises the personal data of its citizens, prompting the suspension as a measure to safeguard their information. Notably, the app is not limited to messaging; it serves as a news source as well. Consequently, certain channels possess extensive personal data of Iraqis.

The government of Iraq acknowledged its prior attempt to communicate with Telegram before the ban, to address concerns about data leakage from the platform and how that can affect Iraq users.  A possible leakage was identified as a significant threat to both national security and peace. Regrettably, the messaging platform did not respond to these concerns.

In a release’ by Reuters, the Ministry of Communication stated:

“{Platforms that leak the data of the official state institutions and the personal data of citizens… but the company did not respond and did not interact with any of these requests.”

The ministry also emphasized its respect for the fundamental human rights of its citizens, in this case, the right to freedom of expression and communication, but stated that it cannot be at the expense of national security. Telegram has access to information like names, phone numbers, and locations, among other sensitive information that could be misused if it falls into the wrong hands, posing privacy risks for Iraqis.

It was also revealed that “the Ministry of Communications affirms its respect for citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and communication, without prejudice to the security of the state and its institutions.”

The messaging app service was blocked on Sunday, August 6, making messages undeliverable to the intended targets. Those who want to continue to use the app in the country would have to access it by employing a virtual private network (VPN). However, VPNs are not totally safe, and doing this can also result in some legal action from the government.

Some Countries Have Also Suspended Telegram

Telegram has encountered bans in other countries for varying reasons. Some bans were temporary, while others appear to be somewhat permanent. Pakistan was among the first nations to suspend the app, attributing the move to the platform’s alleged links to terrorism.

Years ago, Iran temporarily blocked Telegram and other social media channels to counter potential unrest. In April, Brazilian authorities ordered the shutdown of the messaging app to investigate alleged neo-Nazi groups using the platform to incite attacks on schools. In addition to its shutdown, Telegram was also slapped with a fine of $200,000 per day for failing to comply with certain court decisions in the past.

News, Technology News

Temitope Olatunji

Temitope is a writer with more than four years of experience writing across various niches. He has a special interest in the fintech and blockchain spaces and enjoy writing articles in those areas. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics. When not writing, he trades forex and plays video games. 

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