Popular messaging app Telegram is set to be banned in Brazil following a ruling by the Brazilian Supreme Court, which deemed that the app is not in compliance with local authorities when it comes to preventing the sharing of dangerous content. As a result, Telegram is likely to be removed from Apple’s App Store and other digital platforms in Brazil.
The decision comes from Minister Alexandre de Moraes, who ordered on Friday that all internet providers and digital platforms in Brazil take measures to stop Telegram’s services in the country.
ANATEL, the Brazilian communications regulator, is now notifying all companies to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision. Companies that do not comply with the decision will be fined R$100,000 ($20,000) per day. This also includes Apple and Google, as both companies distribute Telegram through their app stores.
9to5Mac has reached out to Apple for a comment, but the company denied our request.
Why Telegram is being banned in Brazil
Telegram has long been under investigation in Brazil, as the app has been used by Brazilian politicians to share fake news. There are also reports of multiple criminal groups and channels on Telegram that provide access to drugs, weapons, and other illicit content.
The situation worsened when the Brazilian Federal Police asked Telegram to take down these groups and provide data on their members. However, Telegram never responded to any of these requests. Brazilian law states that companies that provide online services in the country must comply with court orders when requested.
Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Morais said that Telegram has shown “contempt for Brazilian Justice,” as the company has had multiple opportunities to cooperate with law enforcement, but it never did.
Right now, Telegram is still operating in Brazil, but the app will likely be taken down from the local internet at any time – unless Telegram decides to cooperate with the Supreme Court.
The move comes at the time when President Jair Bolsonaro has been reportedly encouraging his base to follow him on Telegram as he is all set to seek re-election in October.
After facing the shutdown in Brazil, Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov issued a statement, citing the ban happened because his company was checking the wrong email address.
“It seems that we had an issue with emails going between our telegram.org corporate addresses and the Brazilian Supreme Court. As a result of this miscommunication, the Court ruled to ban Telegram for being unresponsive. On behalf of our team, I apologize to the Brazilian Supreme Court for our negligence. We definitely could have done a better job,” he said.
Durov added, “We complied with an earlier court decision in late February and responded with a suggestion to send future takedown requests to a dedicated email address. Unfortunately, our response must have been lost, because the Court used the old general-purpose email address in further attempts to reach us. As a result, we missed its decision in early March that contained a follow-up takedown request. Luckily, we have now found and processed it, delivering another report to the Court today.”
Durov also urged the court to “consider delaying its ruling.”
“Because tens of millions of Brazilians rely on Telegram to communicate with family, friends and colleagues, I ask the Court to consider delaying its ruling for a few days at its discretion to allow us to remedy the situation by appointing a representative in Brazil and setting up a framework to react to future pressing issues like this in an expedited manner. The last 3 weeks have been unprecedented for the world and for Telegram. Our content moderation team was flooded with requests from multiple parties. However, I am certain that once a reliable channel of communication is established, we’ll be able to efficiently process takedown requests for public channels that are illegal in Brazil,” the statement concluded.