Telegram and WhatsApp Will Not Be Blocked in Afghanistan, Says Spokesmperson

A spokesperson for the government has announced that Telegram and WhatsApp will not be banned in Afghanistan.

The two popular messaging applications will continue to work in the country, despite the apps’ status in Afghanistan being thrown into skepticism over the past days.

Last week, a letter from the telecoms regulator of Afghanistan, requesting Internet service providers to block the two apps “without delay,” has circulated on social media platforms.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has over a billion users worldwide.

Telegram is a much smaller yet fast-growing instant messaging service that is popular in some countries including Afghanistan.

“Government of Afghanistan isn’t going to ban any social media platforms. WhatsApp and Telegram to continue operating in Afghanistan,” wrote the deputy spokesperson to government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Javid Faisal, on Twitter.

Last week, the acting minister for telecommunications said that the telecoms regulator had been commanded to put a gradual ban on the services in order to improve their functioning after various complaints had been received from consumers.

Afghan media have reported that the National Directorate for Security (NDS) of Afghanistan wanted the ban to prevent the Taliban and other rebel groups from making use of encrypted messages. The NDS has not commented regarding the matter.

Throughout the said controversy, the messaging platforms seemed to have normally continued to function in Afghanistan.

The episode, which received criticism from civil rights groups and enraged comments on social media, emphasized the importance that Internet and mobile services of all types have gained in Afghanistan, remarkably among government officials themselves.