Iraq temporarily blocked Telegram


August 5, 2023 - August 13, 2023
published by Maria Xynou, Elizaveta Yachmeneva on November 24, 2023
Network(s): AS203214, AS209193

Between 5th to 13th August 2023, OONI data shows that Iraq blocked access to Telegram. The time of blocking coincides with the request of the Iraqi government to block Telegram services to protect the personal data of Iraqi users following a leak of confidential information.

The following chart aggregates OONI measurement coverage from the testing of Telegram on 35 networks in Iraq between 1st July 2023 to 24th November 2023.


Chart: OONI Probe testing of Telegram in Iraq between 1st July 2023 to 24th November 2023 (source: OONI MAT).

As is evident, Telegram has mostly been found accessible when tested in Iraq between July 2023 to November 2023, only presenting a spike in anomalies between 5th to 13th August 2023. The timing of these anomalies correlates with the timing when Iraq’s telecoms ministry reportedly said that they had blocked access to Telegram over national security concerns and to preserve the integrity of users’ personal data.

OONI data shows that access to Telegram was blocked on several networks in Iraq, with most anomalies being observed on Hulum Almustakbal (AS203214) and Supercell Network (AS209193). On both these networks, we observe that Telegram was blocked on 5th August 2023, and that the block was lifted on 13th August 2023.

Moreover, OONI data shows that ISPs in Iraq implemented the block for both Telegram Web and the Telegram mobile app. The block appears to be IP-based, as attempted connections to Telegram endpoints consistently failed. Kentik reported that when the Iraqi government began blocking Telegram, they started by using BGP to hijack traffic destined for Telegram IPs and that these hijacked BGP routes leaked out of the country. The disruption though was minimized by Telegram’s use of RPKI.