Brazilian court orders Apple and Google to block Telegram

Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes has ordered Apple and Google to help block access to the Telegram messaging app in the country, according to Reuters. The sealed order, issued today, asks Brazilian telecommunications agency Anatel to officially suspend Telegram until it complies with local orders and pays a series of fines. The news follows accusations that Telegram has failed to stop users from spreading disinformation as it has become a communications hub for President Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian authorities threatened to suspend Telegram earlier this year, saying it had failed to respond to demands to tackle fake election news. Telegram responded in February by removing three channels of Brazilian American blogger Allan dos Santos, a Bolosnaro supporter, for allegedly spreading disinformation and inciting violence. However, according to a Associated press description of today’s order, Moraes said the company has not cooperated with authorities. The order apparently gives Apple, Google and local telephone carriers five days to block Telegram, while Anatel has 24 hours to implement an official suspension.

Google spokesperson Frederico Cursino confirmed The edge by email that the company had “received an order from the Supreme Court regarding the Telegram messaging app in Brazil”, but “as the matter is sealed, we will not comment”. Apple and Telegram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Telegram is caught in a crossfire between the Supreme Court and Bolsonaro, who the court is investigating for allegedly leaking police documents and making comments wrongly linking AIDS to the COVID-19 vaccine. (Bolsonaro, in turn, has called for Moraes to be impeached.) But the app has been criticized elsewhere for providing a safe haven where far-right political figures can post false information and hate speech to avoid getting hurt. undoing services like Facebook and Twitter, part of Telegram’s stated commitment to denying government censorship demands. It was banned in Russia for refusing to share encryption keys in terrorism investigations, although that ban was lifted in 2020. Meanwhile, the Brazilian justice system has already ordered blocks from Telegram competitor WhatsApp, but the bans proved short-lived.


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