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Home Government Tech Policy Telegram owners act to curb terrorist chat after Indonesian complaint

Telegram owners act to curb terrorist chat after Indonesian complaint

Indonesia has moved to limit access to the messaging app Telegram and also threatened a complete ban on the use of the app in the country.

The reaction from Pavel Durov, the co-founder of the app, which offers end-to-end encryption, on Sunday, was to offer to put together a team of moderators to remove terrorist-linked content, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The report comes close on the heels of the announcement by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that laws would be promulgated before the end of the year to force companies that offer encrypted messaging apps to decrypt messages when asked to do so by law enforcement agencies.

Durov's pledge came after the Indonesian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology last Friday complained that militants were using Telegram as a recruiting tool and to spread information on how to carry out terrorist attacks.

The ministry warned that it would block Telegram if the company behind it did not filter what it called "illegal content". ISPs were asked to block access to the Web version of Telegram.

“The government has long observed Telegram and we are a country that prioritises the safety of our nation, our people,” Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Durov, who with his brother Nikolai launched Telegram four years ago, told his followers that he was not aware of Indonesia's request to block several chat groups on which radicals are active.

He said Telegram had now blocked those channels and would act to respond to future requests from Indonesian officials.

“We are forming a dedicated team of moderators with knowledge of Indonesian culture and language to be able to process reports of terrorist-related content more quickly and accurately,” Durov said.

“Telegram is heavily encrypted and privacy-oriented, but we’re no friends of terrorists – in fact, every month we block thousands of ISIS-related public channels… We’re constantly striving to be more efficient at preventing terrorist propaganda, and are always open to ideas on how to get better at this.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.