Telegram builds a direct hotline for authorities, so they can pull down illegal content quickly

After two weeks of being partially blocked in Indonesia, Telegram has finally managed to appease the government and get the ban lifted. 

It’s agreed to build a direct hotline through which authorities can quickly instruct Telegram’s team to pull down terrorist-related content. 

It’s also hired a local team of moderators to comb through public channels, and pull down illegal material, CEO Pavel Durov and information minister Rudiantara told local press.

SEE ALSO: Self-destructing photos and videos have now come to Telegram

The Berlin-headquartered messaging app, which says it has several million users in the populous Southeast Asian country, has not been accessible by Indonesian users using its web version. The block was put in place July 14, because the government said the encrypted platform was popular for terror groups spreading propaganda.

It had threatened to extend the ban to Telegram’s app after the web block, rendering Telegram entirely useless in Indonesia.

To salvage the situation, Durov has been in Indonesia meeting with top government heads.

In Jakarta, meeting with local teams brainstorming ways how to eradicate ISIS propaganda more efficiently.

— Pavel Durov (@durov) August 1, 2017

Makan siang dengan Pavel @durov CEO Telegram. Nasi hijau, bakwan jagung, gurame goreng, sayur genjer, udang sambal ?

— Rudiantara (@rudiantara_id) August 1, 2017

The web version remains blocked for now, but Rudiantara pledged to lift the ban in the coming days.

Durov said the new hotline would reduce the time taken to take down illegal content to just hours. Previously, the process took around a day or more.

This latest agreement with Indonesia is another example of Telegram bending to government pressure.

Although much of Telegram’s competitors, such as WhatsApp, now offer end-to-end encrypted messaging, the app’s reputation for privacy keeps it a favourite with terror groups such as ISIS.

This latest agreement with Indonesia is another example of Telegram bending to government pressure — albeit not compromising on user privacy. In June, Russian-born Durov agreed to register the company with Russian authorities and hand over some basic information about itself. 

The government had threatened to block it in Russia, after blaming Telegram for helping terrorists plan out a suicide bombing there.

Durov has even gone as far as claiming that the FBI tried to pressure him into building a backdoor for the U.S. government to read chats. He also claimed in a tweet that government agents approached his team twice with bribes.

During our team’s 1-week visit to the US last year we had two attempts to bribe our devs by US agencies + pressure on me from the FBI.

— Pavel Durov (@durov) June 11, 2017

And that was just 1 week. It would be naive to think you can run an independent/secure cryptoapp based in the US.

— Pavel Durov (@durov) June 11, 2017

Indonesia and Russia aren’t the first countries to take an official stance against messaging apps. Australia and the UK have been pushing to put in place formal laws to force apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal to hand over user data, in hopes of sniffing out illegal content.

CORRECTION: Aug. 4, 2017, 2:18 p.m. SGT The article formerly referred to Telegram as a Russian app. While Durov and his brother, Nikolai, were born in Russia, the company is headquartered in Berlin. The article has been amended to reflect this.

WATCH: People are taking fish antibiotics and it’s a bad idea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *