‘Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp closed for security’

Tarana+HalimDaily Dhaka Times: The state minister for posts and telecommunications has said that the social networking site Facebook and the instant messaging applications Facebook Messenger, Viber and WhatsApp were shut down ‘in the interest of national security’.

But there was no directive to shut down the internet as a whole, says Tarana Halim, adding that the problem could have occurred when these apps were being shut down.

For the first time in Bangladesh, millions of users were shut out of the internet for about 90 minutes on Wednesday.

This came two hours after the Supreme Court scrapped the review petitions and upheld the death sentences of war criminals Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid.

The government move came in the wake of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s hint last week at clamping restrictions on the internet.

Users across the country were unable to access the World Wide Web between 1:15pm and 2:30pm.

But business returned to normal in the afternoon. However, some social media networking sites are still inaccessible and some mobile phone apps are not yet working.

Tarana Halim, briefing reporters at the Secretariat, urged the people to accept the situation in the greater interest of the nation. “You’ll (users) have to wait until further notice about when the closed apps will resume working.”

She said the government was keeping an eye on Twitter, Tango, imo and several other social networking and messaging applications.

The government had blocked some popular calling and messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber for several days during the three-month agitation of the BNP-led alliance early this year.

Police said they were having trouble tracking down saboteurs as they were using these social media apps to communicate.
After the recent killing of two foreign nationals and attacks on police checkposts, the prime minister on Nov 8 said the perpetrators were taking advantage of internet-based applications to communicate. They were thus evading detection by the security agencies.

The prime minister hinted then at closing down some mobile apps to cut off the militants’ communication and funding.


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