Government cuts off internet but Facebook, Viber & WhatsApp are blocked

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An internet shutdown in Bangladesh which lasted for more than an hour was a “mistake”, according to the authorities.

Officials announced on Wednesday that access to Facebook, Viber and WhatsApphad all been blocked in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling upholding death sentences for two men convicted of war crimes. But the country’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission says it accidentally cut off access to the internet across the whole country.

The web blackout started at around 13:00 local time and lasted at least 75 minutes. “We restored the internet as soon as we realised the mistake,” says Shahjahan Mahmood, the commission’s chairman. The messaging services were blocked as originally planned in order to maintain security, he says.

“There was no directive to shut down the internet,” Mr Mahmood was quoted as saying on the bdnews24.com website, adding that it could have happened “as part of a process to ensure that these apps cannot be used in Bangladesh”.

Businesses have since complained that they were unable to fulfil orders during the blackout and the long-term effect “will be massive”.

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