75,000 Turks Arrested for Downloading Encrypted Chat App

The use of repressive force against these people was wrong. Innocent people shouldn’t be arrested for trying to communicate securely.

Tens of thousands of Turkish citizens detained or dismissed from their jobs on the basis of downloading an encrypted messaging app have had their human rights breached, a legal opinion published in London has found.

The study, commissioned by opponents of the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, argues that the arrest of 75,000 suspects primarily because they downloaded the ByLock app is arbitrary and illegal.

It reflects growing concern about the legality of the Turkish government’s crackdown in the aftermath of last year’s failed coup.

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The detention of people on this basis is “arbitrary and in breach of article 5” of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees the right to liberty, the report says.

The article says that Telegram is a secure messaging tool, which is incorrect enough to be noted. Telegram stores user communication data on its servers as unencrypted by default. The decent measure of secure communication is only when users actively enable the encryption feature in the Telegram app, and Telegram’s encryption is mediocre. Both of these traits — the insecurity by default and mediocre encryption — are strong points against Telegram being called “secure,” especially when there will be good activists mistakenly depending on it under brutal regimes as a result. The app Signal is among the best alternatives for secure communication instead.