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Spain: Judge halts blocking of Telegram pending probe

A Spanish court has reversed course and halted a controversial order to temporarily suspend the Telegram messaging app nationwide. Media firms had complained of intellectual property rights violations.

Judge Santiago Pedraz of Spain’s High Court on Monday halted his own order to suspend the Telegram messaging app.

The lifting of the block is pending a police report on the platform and “the impact the temporary suspension could have on users.”

Why was the order issued?

The order was issued on Friday by Pedraz after media companies, including Atresmedia, EGEDA, Mediaset, and Telefonica, complained that Telegram was allowing users to upload their content without permission. 

While the claims were being investigated, Pedraz agreed to block Telegram’s services in Spain, as of Monday. According to the court source, it will be the responsibility of mobile operators to block Telegram’s services.

The judge issued the order after officials in the Virgin Islands, where Telegram is registered, failed to respond to a court request from July 2023. The court wanted information that would allow it to identify who was behind the accounts in question that were uploading apparently pirated content.

The lack of cooperation from the Virgin Islands led him to take this “precautionary measure,” the judge said in Friday’s order.

Why was there a rethink?

Consumer advocacy group Facua had criticized the ruling as disproportionate, warning that it would cause “enormous damage” to millions of the platform’s users.

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

Telegram is the fourth most used messaging service in Spain, according to the competition watchdog CNMC. It was used by almost 19% of Spaniards surveyed by the CNMC.

Telegram claims to have 700 million monthly active users all over the world. The company has had to deal with blocking in a number of countries, from Brazil to Somalia.

Source: Dw

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