The Thailand government has reportedly instructed Internet service providers in the country to block access to Telegram in light of pro-democracy protestors using the instant messaging application to organise their campaigns.
Khaosod English reported on Monday (19 October) that the leaked “Top Secret” order cited the recently-passed “emergency decree” which bans the publication of news and information that “may instigate fear amongst the people” or “affect national security or peace and order”.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, according to the order, is obliged to relay the instructions to all service providers.
According to Khaosod English, however, it is “unclear whether the ban on Telegram will actually be carried out”.
Taiwanese journalist and foreign correspondent William Yang noted that other than in Thailand, Telegram “was a major tool for communication among protesters” in Hong Kong, Catalonia, and Belarus.
“The Thai government is now trying to break up communication among the protesters,” he tweeted.
Telegram was a major tool for communication among protesters in #HongKong, Catalonia, Belarus and now in #Thailand. The Thai government is now trying to break up communication among the protesters. #whatishappeninginthailand https://t.co/8spJ9S4lfq
— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) October 19, 2020
A source told Reuters in August last year that Telegram — at the time — was releasing an update that will allow users to conceal their telephone numbers to protect Hong Kong protesters against potential state surveillance.
The move came after the app came under fire for a “bug” that led to the exposure of users’ phone numbers, putting protestors at risk against authorities.