By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 19 March 2022 • 11:23
Image of Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil.
CREDIT: Jair Messias Bolsonaro Facebook
A Brazilian Supreme Court Judge suspends messaging app Telegram saying it had repeatedly refused to adhere to judicial orders issued by the country’s courts. Telegram, which is the preferred messaging app for Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, had been told to freeze accounts that were spreading disinformation or for failing to comply with the country’s laws.
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes issued the order on Friday March 18th, prompting a response from Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov. He apologised for the company’s “negligence,” and asked the court to delay its ruling for a few days as it sought to improve compliance.
Bolsonaro nd his supporters have increasingly relied upon 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’ decision, which is likely to stoke debate about freedom of speech in politically polarised Brazil, represents the latest chapter in the crusading justice’s battle with Bolsonaro and his allies.
The judge has been leading a series of Supreme Court investigations into Bolsonaro and his supporters for disseminating fake news, probes that have enraged many on the right and raised questions about judicial overreach.
Bolsonaro speaking at a religious event in the western state of Acre, said the court’s decision was “inadmissible.”
Durov 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.”
Wilson Diniz Wellisch, the Head of Telecoms regulator Anatel, gave the company 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.
Anatel said it had “forwarded the judicial decision to the entities operating in the regulated sector.”
The judge’s decision has been criticised by some including Justice Minister Anderson Torres who wrote on Twitter that Moraes’ “monocratic” decision, 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.”
Telegram has proved popular with far-right groups worldwide and has faced bans and restrictions in countries as diverse as Germany, with Brazil’s Supreme Court the latest to suspend the messaging app.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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