Brazil’s Supreme Court Bans Telegram Because Bolsonaro Supporters Use It

Name of the game: organize your own camp but deny the means of organization to your enemy

Source: Reuters

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Friday ordered the suspension of messaging app Telegram, saying it had repeatedly refused to adhere to judicial orders to freeze accounts spreading disinformation or comply with the country’s laws, according to a copy of the ruling seen by Reuters.

In response, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov apologized for the company’s “negligence,” and asked the court to delay its ruling for a few days as it sought to improve compliance.

Moraes’ decision, which is likely to stoke debate about freedom of speech in politically polarized Brazil, represents the latest chapter in the crusading justice’s battle with far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies.

The president and his supporters have increasingly come to rely on Telegram as a form of mass communication as larger tech companies like Meta, which owns messaging app WhatsApp, Alphabet Inc’s Google, and Twitter have adhered to Supreme Court orders to drop offending accounts over allegedly spreading disinformation.

Moraes has been leading a series of Supreme Court probes into Bolsonaro and his supporters for disseminating fake news that have enraged many on the right – and sparked questions of judicial overreach.

According to Moraes’ ruling, Telegram has repeatedly failed to block offending accounts and ignored the court’s decisions.

Durov, Telegram’s founder, blamed his company’s shortcomings on email issues, saying, “we definitely could have done a better job.” Writing on his personal Telegram account, Durov asked the court to delay its ruling.

“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,” he wrote.

Moraes gave Wilson Diniz Wellisch, the head of telecoms regulator Anatel, 24 hours to implement the suspension, which would stand until Telegram complies with outstanding judicial orders, pays a series of fines, and presents a country representative before the court.

Moraes also ordered Apple and Google to help block users on their platforms from being able to use Telegram in Brazil. Both Apple and Google declined to comment.

Anatel said it had “forwarded the judicial decision to the entities operating in the regulated sector.”

Moraes’ decision quickly faced official opposition.

Writing on Twitter, Justice Minister Anderson Torres criticized Moraes’ “monocratic” decision, which he said had “harmed millions of Brazilians.” Torres said he had instructed his ministry to “study a solution to restore the people’s right to use whatever social network they wish.”

The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Germany, where local media reported that police in February blocked 64 Telegram channels, the app has been blamed for fueling an increasingly virulent subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who exchange news about supposed dangers and arrange protests that have spilled over into violence.

  1. Quintus Sertorius says

    Pathetic corrupt judge. How pathetic and venal.

  2. SteveK9 says

    Be interesting if Glenn Greenwald discusses this.

    1. Maiasta says
  3. ken says

    Boy have government parasites changed the definition of ‘misinformation’ or what!

    Check out Germany,,, Always the leader in tyranny and democide. Then the ‘judges’ in Brazil who want to rule,,, oh,,, my bad,,, they already rule.

    Example of ‘misinformation in the world today.
    CDC VAERS. Yes,,, total hogwash,,, misinformation,,, all lies!

    Those 26,000 dead ought to be ashamed of themselves trying to destroy honest government narrative!

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