Bangladesh shuts down instant messaging apps to quell protest

19 Jan 2015

The Bangladeshi government, in an attempt to quell protest of its rule, has shut down mobile messaging services Tango and Viber across the small country.

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Bangladesh Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission decided to take the measure after it had found the two apps were being used by protesters and opposition to organise protests against the ruling political party, the Bangladeshi Awami League.

The vast majority of activists who will be affected by the shutdown are part of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), who have been orchestrating nationwide transport blockades in a bid to force the government’s hand and step down.

While the country’s telecommunications commission has said the shutdown was only ‘for the time being’, its purpose was stated by a commission spokesperson as being necessary to halt protesters from ‘exchanging information’.

Protests against the government have been increasingly violent in recent weeks, with the latest bout of protests seeing 25 people lose their lives after the protesters launched firebombs at a bus.

The issue draws comparisons with recent comments by the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron. Last week, he reportedly said he was looking to ban encrypted instant messaging apps, including Snapchat and WhatsApp, because they could not be monitored for terrorist activity.

Bangladesh protest image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic