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Iraq widens Internet blocks to disrupt insurgent communications

Published on Jun 17, 2014 6:53 AM
Iraqi soldiers watch as armed tribesmen gather to show their willingness to join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities, on June 16, 2014 in the southern city of Basra. -- PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (REUTERS) - Iraq widened a clampdown on social media on Monday, blocking secure private communications channels to prevent Sunni militants from using them in their stunning sweep that is threatening to dismember the country.

In addition to banning virtual private networks (VPNs), it has also recently instructed mobile telephone operators to stop mobile data including instant messaging services, a mobile operator and an industry source said on Monday.

Sunni armed groups led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) routed Baghdad's army last week, seizing Mosul and much of the north of the country and also vowing to push onto the capital.

These setbacks led state-run Iraq Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC), which owns almost all fixed line networks outside Kurdistan, to block some social media including Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Skype, according to a circular obtained by Reuters.

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