Telegram is banned by order of the Brazilian Supreme Court
Telegram is banned by order of the Brazilian Supreme Court

Brazilian Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes has ordered the suspension of the messaging app Telegram, saying it has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to freeze accounts that spread misinformation or comply with the country's laws.

In response, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov has apologized for the company's negligence and asked the court to delay its decision for a few days as the platform attempts to improve compliance.

President Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters have increasingly relied on the platform as a form of mass communication as major tech companies such as Meta, Google and Twitter have complied with Supreme Court orders to remove implicated accounts in the wake of misinformation allegations.

Moraes' decision is the final chapter in the fight for justice for Bolsonaro and his allies. This could spark a debate about freedom of expression in Brazil.

Moraes is leading a series of Supreme Court investigations into Bolsonaro and his supporters for spreading disinformation. Bolsonaro said the court's decision was inadmissible.

According to Moraes' judgment, the platform has repeatedly failed to block abusive accounts and ignore court orders. Durov blamed messaging issues for the problem.

"We could have done better," he said. Once a reliable communication channel is established, we can effectively process withdrawal requests through public channels, which are illegal in Brazil. He also asked the court to postpone the decision.

Telegram is popular with far-right groups

A judge in Brazil's Supreme Court has given telecom regulator Anatel 24 hours to implement the moratorium. The suspension continues until the platform complies with the suspended order, pays a series of fines and appears in court on behalf of the platform in the state.

Moraes also ordered Google and Apple to help prevent users of their platforms from using Telegram in Brazil.

Telecom regulator Anatel said it was referring the court ruling to companies operating in the regulated sector. Attorney General Anderson Torres criticized Moras's unilateral decision, which has hurt millions of Brazilians.

Torres said he has asked his administration to work on a solution to restore people's right to use the social network of their choice.

Telegram has proven popular with far-right groups around the world. In February, German police banned 64 Telegram channels.

The app has been accused of fueling a dangerous subculture of anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists who share information about the alleged dangers and organize protests that have turned violent.

Bolsonaro also accused the country's top authorities in January of cowardly discussing banning the app over fears it could be used to spread false news.

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