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Rule of LawBrazil

Brazil judge orders temporary suspension of Telegram

April 27, 2023

Brazil is cracking down on a rise in school violence and has asked Telegram for details on neo-Nazi chat groups. The messaging service allegedly failed to turn over all information requested by police.

Telegram app against the Brazilian flag
Brazil's federal government has voiced support for the regulation of social media platforms to crack down on hate speech and violenceImage: Andre M. Chang/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

A federal judge in Brazil on Wednesday ordered a temporary suspension of the Telegram messaging app after the social media service allegedly failed to fully cooperate in an investigation into neo-Nazi chat groups.

Brazil's federal police requested complete information on the popular platform's chat groups, but the ruling from a federal court in Espírito Santo state said "the facts shown by police authorities show a clear purpose of Telegram of not cooperating with the investigation."

The judge also increased the daily fine for non-compliance to 1 million reais (about $200,000, €181,000) from 100,000 reais previously, according to the ruling.

Why is Brazil clamping down on Telegram?

Brazil has seen a rise in school violence in the last year, including an incident in November in which a man with a swastika pinned to his vest shot and killed four people in two schools in the small town of Aracruz in Espírito Santo state.

The blocking of the messaging app appears to be in line with the country's push to curb violent attacks in schools and to limit the influence of social media.

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.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes in a meeting on April 18 called social media a "no man's land" where users can get away with actions and speech that are illegal in real life and called for regulation of the services. Lula voiced his support for the proposal too.

A rise in school violence in Brazil

From 2002 to 2022, Brazil saw 16 attacks or violent episodes in schools, with four of them taking place in the second half of last year, according to a report from researchers led by Daniel Cara, an education professor at the University of Sao Paulo. 

The researchers, comprised of psychologists, public school educators and social scientists, among others, prepared the report for the federal government.

Earlier this month, a man with a hatchet burst into a day care center in Brazil and killed four children. They were between the ages of five and seven. Last month, a 13-year-old boy killed a teacher in a knife attack at a school in Sao Paulo.

rm/kb (Reuters, AFP, AP)