Telegram temporarily blocked in Spain

Telegram, the messaging app, is currently suspended in Spain. However, this is a temporary order issued after media companies complained that the network’s users were uploading their content without permission.

The order was issued by Judge Santiago Pedraz of the Audencia Nacional, a high court that handles sensitive cases.

Previously, Spain’s media companies, including Atresmedia, Mediaset, Telefonica, and EGEDA, complained that Telegram was allowing its users to upload their copyrighted content without permission.

The claims are still being investigated but Pedras agreed to block Telegram’s services in Spain for now. According to El Pais, it’s the responsibility of mobile operators to block Telegram's services.

The order was issued after officials in the Virgin Islands – where Telegram is now registered – failed to respond to a court request from July 2023. The court was seeking information that would allow it to identify who’s behind the accounts apparently uploading pirated content.

The lack of cooperation from the Virgin Islands led him to take this "precautionary measure," the judge said in Friday's order. Telegram has around 8.5 million users in Spain – that’s approximately 18% of the population.

Messages on Telegram are end-to-end encrypted, one reason why the app is popular worldwide, especially in authoritarian countries. However, open groups and broadcast channels allow users to publish all kinds of files publicly, and this is a big problem because extremist groups are freely using the app.

Last year, Brazil blocked Telegram after saying that the platform was not collaborating with the police in an investigation against neo-Nazi groups.

And it was Telegram where ISIS claimed responsibility for last Friday’s terrorist attack in Moscow. Cybersecurity analyst Cyfirma also said in mid-March that ISIS was using Telegram to recruit converts.

In Spain, consumer advocacy group Facua called the judge’s ruling disproportionate and warned that Telegram’s suspension would cause “enormous damage” to millions of its users.

"It is as if they shut down the internet because there are websites that illegally host content protected by copyright," said Facua's general secretary, Ruben Sanchez.

Blocking Telegram might be difficult, however. There’s the VPN way, of course, but Telegram also has a proxy service to make it appear that the connection is coming from another country.

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