Iraq Blocks Popular Messaging App Telegram: Here’s Why

Telegram ban

Iraq’s telecoms ministry recently decided to block the popular messaging app Telegram. The move comes as a response to concerns over personal data violations and national security. According to the ministry, the app does not handle users’ data well. It also claims that the block is to “preserve the integrity of users’ personal data”. Just like other social chat apps, Telegram is widely used in Iraq for chats but also as a news source. According to Reuters, the ministry claims some channels have large personal data. This includes data like address, family ties of Iraqis and so on.

Telegram Downloads

The ministry also claims that it asked the app to shut down “platforms that leak the data of the official state institutions and the personal data of citizens… but the company did not respond and did not interact with any of these requests”. The statement also adds

“The Ministry of Communications affirms its respect for citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and communication, without prejudice to the security of the state and its institutions,”

The Decision to Block Telegram

The Iraqi government’s decision to block Telegram was announced by the telecoms ministry on August 6. One of the critical concerns raised by the Iraqi government is the issue of personal data violations. Telegram, like many other chat apps, collects and stores user data. This includes personal info such as names, phone numbers, and even location data. The government fears that this data could be misused or accessed by unauthorized individuals, posing a risk to the privacy and security of its citizens.

In addition to personal data violations, national security concerns played a big role in the decision to block Telegram. The Iraqi government believes that the app’s encryption features make it difficult for authorities to monitor and track potential threats. This lack of oversight could potentially be exploited by individuals or groups with malicious intent. They claim that this could pose a threat to the country’s security.

Telegram’s Response & experts Reaction

In response to the ban, Telegram stated that all user data on its app are very safe and do not pose a risk to users.  The company claims that information on its app is very safe and no one can access the data apart from the parties involved. Telegram says it will go into talks with the Iraqi government to see how its services can be restored. It called for users of the app to remain calm and that it will continue to talk with the government.

Telegram said

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“Please remain calm, all user data are very safe and we will do all we can to return our services. We are in talks with the government”.

The ban on Telegram in Iraq has been met with mixed reactions. While some users have expressed disappointment and frustration, others have welcomed the move as a necessary step to combat terrorism and protect national security.

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Wael Abdulal, an Iraqi tech expert, and founder of e-commerce startup Miswag and social media app Nabd have criticized the ban. He said that the ban “will be a bad impact on brands and people who rely on the app for communication”.

Omar Alshaikhli, another Iraqi tech expert and founder of the social media platform Hayatech and mobile app, Tech Hub also expresses concern about the band. He states that this “will limit freedom of expression and could lead to the use of less secure chat apps”.

However, Ali Al-Mawlawi, an Iraqi security expert and the head of research at the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies have defended the ban. He claims that the ban is a “good move to tackle terrorism and protect national security”.

Telegram encrypted Messaging app

Implications of the Ban

The ban on Telegram in Iraq has several implications for its citizens and the broader digital landscape in the country. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Communication: Telegram is a widely used chat app in Iraq, with millions of users relying on it for communication. The ban will disrupt the ability of people, brands, and organizations to connect and exchange data.

2. Freedom of Expression: The ban raises concerns about freedom of expression and access to info. Telegram has been a platform for open discussions and the sharing of ideas. With its absence, there is a risk of limiting the country’s diversity of voices and opinions.

3. Digital Economy: The ban may also have an impact on the digital economy in Iraq. Many brands and entrepreneurs rely on Telegram for marketing, customer support, and e-commerce. The loss of this platform could hinder their ability to reach users and conduct business.

4. Alternative Platforms: With the ban on Telegram, users may turn to alternative chat apps that are still active in Iraq. This could lead to people having to use less secure apps that have little regulation.


Final Words

The decision to block Telegram in Iraq is a response to concerns over personal data violations and national security. While the government aims to protect its citizens’ privacy and security, the ban has implications for communication, freedom of expression, the digital economy, and the use of alternative platforms. It remains to be seen how this decision will shape the digital landscape in Iraq and whether alternative solutions will emerge to address the concerns raised by the government.

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