Indonesia requests ISPs to block Telegram messenger over terror fears

Indonesia has requested Internet Service Providers in the country to block access to Telegram because it has been used as a medium to spread radicalism.
Indonesia has requested Internet Service Providers in the country to block access to Telegram because it has been used as a medium to spread radicalism.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry has told Internet service providers (ISP) in the country to block access to web messenger Telegram because it has been found to be used by terrorists.

“There are many channels on their service that contain radicalism propaganda, terrorism, hatred, provocation and instructions to assemble bombs, strategies to attack, disturbing images, and other contents that are against the Indonesia law,” said the ministry in the statement issued on Friday (July 14).

The statement from the ministry, however, did not indicate when the eight ISPs in Indonesia must comply with the request to block Telegram. Also, if implemented by all eight ISPs here, the block would only affect Telegram’s service on desk-top computers.

People can still use the smartphone app version of the service – the more widely used version.

But the ministry also said it was preparing to shut down the Telegram app “comprehensively in Indonesia if Telegram does not prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to deal with unlawful contents on their application”.

Telegram has in excess of 100 million users, according to the number of downloads from the Internet. It is said to be a non-profit cloud-based instant messaging service that also provides optional end-to-end-encrypted messaging.

Of the eight ISPs in Indonesia, only Temkomsel has said it will adhere to the move. The rest have yet to respond.

It has been widely reported that Telegram has been used by militant groups, including those with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to communicate in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world. 

Santoso, one of Indonesia's most-wanted terrorist until he was killed last year, used Telegram to communicate with his men from the ISIS-affiliated Mujahideen Indonesia Timur (MIT), or East Indonesia Mujahideen in English.


Correction Note: This story has been updated to correct a quote from Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry.