Indonesia mulls screening measures for Telegram for access to be restored

Indonesia mulls screening measures for Telegram for access to be restored

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a smartphone showing the Islamic State logo in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration shot November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

JAKARTA: Indonesian authorities could restore access to Telegram - provided certain conditions are met - after blocking access to the messaging service last Friday, citing concerns that it was being used to spread "radical and terrorist propaganda".

Among the assurances Indonesia wants from Telegram is for a "government channel" to be created so that authorities can communicate more quickly and efficiently with the Telegram team.

Indonesia said it will request to be given the authority as a "trusted flagger" to identify accounts that carry radical or terrorist propaganda. In addition, it will ask Telegram to open a representative office in Indonesia.

These measures were outlined by the Communications and Information Ministry in a statement on its website on Monday (Jul 17). 

It comes after Telegram promised on Sunday to shut down terrorist-related channels and put together a team of moderators familiar with Indonesia's language to do this.

Telegram is a messaging platform known to be popular among Islamic State sympathisers, who use chatrooms with hundreds of members as well as private conversations. Security officials in several countries have complained that the apps provide a safe space for militants to communicate with each other. 

TELEGRAM'S LACK OF RESPONSE TO EMAILS 

Indonesia's Communications and Information Ministry said in its statement on Monday that it had sent six email requests to Telegram between Mar 29, 2016 and Jul 11, 2017 to clear radical content from channels on the messaging platform.

However, there was no response to the requests, said the ministry. The government then decided to block access to Telegram after considering what it called “a lack of goodwill” from the company.

In response, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov apologised on Sunday. He explained that there had been a "miscommunication" with Indonesian authorities, as he was not aware of a request by the government to take down certain channels.

"Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we're no friends of terrorists," Mr Durov said on his Telegram channel, adding he was "upset" over Indonesia's ban.

“I appreciate the response from Pavel Durov," said Communications Minister Rudiantara in a statement on Monday. "Ministry of Communications and Information will follow up as soon as possible in terms of technical detail so that SOP can be implemented immediately."

The minister added that Mr Durov had followed-up with the ministry's requests and proposed special communication for the process of handling negative content.

Indonesia's Communications Minister had previously told local media that authorities have found at least 17,000 pages containing radical content, including information on bomb making.

Source: CNA/am

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