The Indonesian government has lifted its threat to ban the encrypted messaging app Telegram because it's taking steps to address "negative" content that includes forums for Islamic State group supporters, the information technology minister said Tuesday.
Ahead of a meeting in Jakarta with Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Rudiantara, announced that "we have agreed to keep Telegram accessible."
Earlier in July, the ministry said it was preparing to shut down Telegram in Indonesia, where it has several million users, if it didn't develop procedures to block unlawful content including pro-Islamic State group discussion groups.
As a partial measure, it asked Internet companies in the world's most populous Muslim nation to block access to 11 addresses offering the web version of Telegram. Durov apologised for failing to quickly respond to the Indonesian government's requests for apparent terror content to be blocked, blaming a miscommunication.
"We will discuss setting up a standard operating procedure involving the ministry and Telegram, including the method of our communication, in order to be more able to address the negative content in Telegram," Rudiantara, who uses one name, told reporters, with Durov at his side.
Suspected militants arrested by Indonesian police recently have told authorities that they communicated with each other via Telegram and received orders and directions to carry out attacks through the app, including from Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian with the Islamic State group in Syria accused of orchestrating several attacks in the past 18 months.
Critics of the government's threat said it would make more sense to monitor the IS discussion groups for possible intelligence than banning the app.
The free messaging service can be used as a smartphone app and on computers through a Web interface or desktop messenger. Its strong encryption has contributed to its popularity with those concerned about privacy and secure communications in the digital era but also attracted militant groups and other criminal elements.
Durov said earlier this month that Telegram blocks thousands of IS-related channels a month and is "always open to ideas on how to get better at this."