Telegram restricted in Iraq over personal data leaks

Network data confirm the restriction of messaging platform Telegram across most of Iraq as of Sunday 6 August 2023, excluding the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region. The measure comes as the Ministry of Communications issues an order for Telegram to be suspended over national security concerns and the integrity of personal data.

Real-time NetBlocks metrics show that Telegram frontends and backends have been restricted on leading providers Zain and Earthlink, while service remains available on Kurdish operators Kurdistan Net and Korek Telecom. This class of disruption can be worked around using VPN services which can circumvent government internet censorship measures.

Telegram provides a hybrid user experience, combining elements of social media and messaging platforms. The app is popular with activists, but is also relatively unregulated compared to other mainstream services having faced legal challenges around the world. In April 2023, Telegram was restricted in Brazil over its refusal to supply user data to authorities.

What’s happening in Iraq?

Iraq has recently come into the spotlight for shutting down internet access over extended periods in a bid to limit cheating in national exams. The country also has a history of internet shutdowns and restrictions during political crises and public protests, which have sometimes obscured numbers of casualties and reporting on alleged human rights abuses.

NetBlocks recommends against the use of messaging platform restrictions due to their disproportionate impact on the public’s right to freely access and impart knowledge.

Further reading:


Internet performance and service reachability are determined via NetBlocks web probe privacy-preserving analytics. Each measurement consists of latency round trip time, outage type and autonomous system number aggregated in real-time to assess service availability and latency in a given country. Network providers and locations are enumerated as vantage point pairs. The root cause of a service outage may be additionally corroborated by means of traffic analysis and manual testing as detailed in the report.

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