1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Brazil court lifts suspension of Telegram app

April 30, 2023

Brazil had temporarily banned Telegram after it failed to cooperate in an investigation into neo-Nazi chat groups. The company says it prioritizes the privacy of users.

An image of the Telegram app on the phone
Telegram brands itself on discretion and said that its special secret chats use end-to-end encryptionImage: Marcello Casal Jr/Agencia Brazil/dpa/picture alliance

A federal judge in Brazil on Saturday lifted the suspension of Telegram, an encrypted messaging app.

Last week, Brazil had ordered a temporary ban on the app over its failure to cooperate in an investigation into neo-Nazi chat groups.

A complete blockage "is not reasonable" given its impact on the freedom of communication for those not involved in the probe, stated Judge Flavio Lucas.

However, the daily fine of 1 million reais (about $200,000, €181,000) for non-compliance continues to be in place.

Brazil's eye on social media regulation

Four people in two schools were shot deadin Espirito Santo state of Brazil in November by a former student with a swastika pinned to his vest.

The court stated that the 16-year-old is believed to have been a member of extremist channels on Telegram where tutorials on murder and bomb manufacturing were disseminated.

In this November 2022 picture, authorities carry a body out of a school in Aracruz, Brazil
Brazil has seen a rise in school violence over the last yearImage: AFP

Telegram was asked to provide authorities with details like names, tax identity numbers, profile photos, bank information and registered credit cards of channel members of two neo-Nazi groups accused of inciting violence in schools.

Brazil has seen a rise in school violence in the last one year.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva made regulation of social media platforms a key consideration in a meeting with ministers and Supreme Court justices earlier this month.

The court also pointed out Telegram's "past clashes with the judiciary" and stated that "cyberspace cannot be free territory."

Telegram's focus on privacy

After the court temporarily suspended the app, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said that it was "technologically impossible" to provide the data.

Durov also emphasized that it is Telegram's mission to protect privacy and free speech.

Telegram – the alternative to WhatsApp

The social media company brands itself on discretion and said that its special secret chats use end-to-end encryption.

In an online FAQ, the company states that it has never shared user data with any government.

Co-existing with the Kremlin

In the past, Telegram has been blocked by other governments including Iran, China and Russia.

The company based in the United Arab Emirates is run by Durov, an ethnic Russian who has managed to co-exist with the Kremlin despite its crackdown on speech and Western media after the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia's messaging app Telegram is being blocked

Telegram is used by so-called "patriotic" hackers loyal to the Kremlin to organize cyberattacks on Ukrainian and NATO targets. The other side uses it to fight back.

Intelligence agencies and security researchers focusing on ransomware gangs, cybercriminals, disinformation purveyors, terror groups, regularly track groups on Telegram

ns/sri (AP, Reuters)