Telecom regulator of Afghanistan this week wrote to Internet service suppliers instructing them to jam the messaging services Telegram and WhatsApp but it was not instantly apparent whether they had obeyed. Use of mobile instant messaging services and social media has blew up in Afghanistan over last few years. Civil rights groups and social media consumers responded with anger to initial reports of the decision and the letter propelled by ATRA, the telecoms regulator, was hugely posted on social media.
Some media reports, mentioning nameless sources, claimed that decision had been instructed by the National Directorate for Security to prevent the utilization of the encrypted messaging services by insurgent groups such as the Taliban. It was not instantly possible to verify the reports. The Shahzad Aryobee, current minister for telecommunications, published a message on Facebook claiming that the telecoms regulator had been instructed to put a steady jam on the facilities to enhance their performance after grievances had been received.
“The government is pledged to freedom of speech and is aware that it is a fundamental civil right for our population,” he claimed. The letter by ATRA, dated Nov. 1 and inked by an administrator of the regulator, ordered Internet firms to block Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Telegram services straight away for a time of 20 Days. On the other hand, the service operated usually last week and still seemed to be operating normally on both private service providers and state-owned operator Salaam.
Last week, there were reports of disruptions but it was not obvious if they were posed by the unrelated problems with WhatsApp services that were felt in various nations or by a deliberate shutdown. In Afghanistan, mobile phone facilities have been one of the huge success stories since the Taliban were expelled from power in 2001 by a U.S.-led campaign, but there are also frequent grievances from consumers about coverage and quality. WhatsApp and analogous services, comprising Viber and Facebook Messenger, are hugely utilized by members of the government and Afghan politicians as well as by the Taliban that has a complicated social media process of its own.