Iraqi Government Lifts Telegram Ban

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Iraq Stops Blocking Telegram

On Sunday morning, the Iraqi government lifted its Telegram ban after issuing it last week due to national security concerns.

It suspended the restriction after the company started complying with authorities’ requirements.

Telegram ban lifted

Iraq’s telecom ministry first imposed a ban on Telegram over the company’s data-sharing policies. It said that the company behind the messaging app failed to respond to requests from the authorities.

To solve the problem, Telegram had to take down several channels that shared private information. The groups it removed have previously published citizens’ names, addresses, and family ties.

Telegram reported that Iraq didn’t ask it to share user data in order to lift the ban.

Before the authorities lifted the ban, users who wanted to use Telegram had to use virtual private networks. While the government imposed a total ban on VPNs in 2014, many people still use them.

Iraq has often been criticized for its internet censorship policies in the past. 

Responding to the comments about the Telegram block, the ministry said that it doesn’t violate freedom of expression. In addition, it urged all messaging apps to respect the law, security, and user data.

In the past few months, the country also completely shut down internet access on several occasions to prevent cheating in exams.

Last month, its new draft laws seriously threatened rights to freedom of expression. Amnesty International and the INSM Foundation for Digital Rights responded by saying that people have the right to criticize leaders and religious figures.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq 167 out of 180 in its Press Freedom Index for 2023.

Other countries that have previously imposed bans on Telegram include Iran, Pakistan, China, and Thailand.