After the ruling, Google and Apple instructed to block Telegram app in Brazil amid recent school attacks, including one in which four people were killed and 12 wounded by a man wearing a swastika in Aracruz, Espírito Santo.
The icon of the Telegram app is visible on a smartphone for instant messaging. (Image Source – Telegram)
On Wednesday, a federal judge in Brazil ordered the temporary suspension of the messaging app Telegram, citing its alleged failure to provide all information requested by the Federal Police regarding neo-Nazi chat groups. This move is seen as part of Brazil’s efforts to combat a recent surge in school violence.
Following the ruling, several Telegram users reported being unable to use the app, as local carriers complied with the order. Additionally, Google and Apple were instructed to block the app.
The federal judge in Brazil not only ordered the temporary suspension of the messaging app Telegram but also increased the daily fine for non-compliance to 1 million reais, up from 100,000 reais previously. The ruling, which was provided by the Justice Ministry’s press office, cited Telegram’s alleged lack of cooperation with police authorities investigating neo-Nazi chat groups.
According to the ruling from a federal court in Espírito Santo state, “the facts shown by police authorities show a clear purpose of Telegram of not cooperating with the investigation.” Brazil’s federal police have confirmed that they are already working towards blocking Telegram in compliance with the ruling.
Telegram’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press regarding the court ruling and their communications with the Federal Police. This development comes as Brazil grapples with a rise in school violence, including almost two dozen attacks or violent episodes in schools since 2000, half of which have occurred in the last 12 months alone.
The federal government of Brazil has been focused on combating this issue, with a particular emphasis on regulating social media platforms. During a meeting earlier this month, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his ministers, Supreme Court justices, governors, and mayors discussed the need to hold platforms responsible for failing to remove content that incites violence.
Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes referred to social media as a “no man’s land” where illegal actions and speech can occur, and Lula voiced support for regulation.
In the past, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes had ordered a nationwide shutdown of Telegram in Brazil, citing the platform’s failure to cooperate with authorities. In his ruling, de Moraes stated that Telegram had repeatedly ignored requests from Brazilian authorities to block profiles and provide user information.
Apple, Google, and Brazilian phone carriers were given five days to block Telegram from their platforms, but the app was not taken down after one of its founders issued a statement citing a miscommunication due to an outdated email address and apologizing for negligence.
In January 2021, after former US President Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter following the Capitol Hill riots, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies encouraged their followers to join Telegram. The move comes as Brazil has seen a surge in school attacks and the federal government is striving to combat school violence, with a particular focus on regulating social media platforms.