Jan 19, 2015 · 1 minute

Bangladesh has temporarily blocked access to Viber and Tango, two free services which allow users to communicate via mobile applications, to disrupt protests in the country.

The services are thought to be popular with members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) responsible for violent protests which have led to the deaths of at least 25 people. Agence France-Presse reports that Viber and Tango have only been blocked "for the time being."

Bangladesh's government has also "harassed newspaper and television journalists" and "stopped the broadcast of speeches" by BNP leader Khaleda Zia's son, according to the Financial Times. (Zia's son is currently in the United Kingdom avoiding treason charges.)

Disrupting communication tools to quash protests or control the spread of information isn't anything new. Thailand blocked Facebook in May in response to protests, and Iraq did the same thing in June when the Islamic State started to advance on Baghdad.

Other countries are looking into similar bans. Iran's government has been ordered to block access to WhatsApp for allowing anti-Islam messages onto its service, and Turkey is threatening to ban Twitter if it doesn't block the account of a Turkish newspaper.

It's not clear when Viber and Tango will be allowed to resume operation in Bangladesh.

[photo by joiseyshowaa]