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Judge suspends today's planned block of Telegram services in Spain, and this is why
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Judge suspends today's planned block of Telegram services in Spain, and this is why

The popular messaging app has around 8.5 million users in the country, but some major media companies have taken a case to the courts about content copyright violation issues on the platform

Javier Varela

Madrid

Monday, 25 March 2024, 14:35

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Today's temporary suspension of messaging app Telegram's services in Spain has been postponed pending an official police report.

It comes after Spain's High Court ordered the suspension of Telegram in the country as of today (Monday 25 March) after major media companies complained it was allowing users to upload their content without permission, according to a court source. But Judge Santiago Pedraz requested National Police write up a report before the encrypted chat platform is officially suspended, keeping the app up and running and online for now.

The judge requested more information about the app's services, as well as what sort of impact a temporary suspension could have on users. Pedraz previously gave an ultimatum to ten telephone and Internet companies operating in Spain to "temporarily suspend the resources associated" with Telegram for alleged continued infringement of intellectual property rights in Spain.

The court order, dated Friday 22 March, was mandatory at the time that Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange, Masmóvil and Digi Telecom, among other companies, received it. One day later, on Saturday, the judge gave the Spanish operators three hours to suspend the resources linked with the application as soon as they received his order.

In today's seven-page document, Pedraz also agreed to extend the period of investigation of the criminal case for six months, until 29 September, in order to probe the matter opened by Telefónica's initial complaint against the alleged repeated infringement of intellectual property rights and the lack of cooperation of the Virgin Islands authorities since July 2023.

8.5 million users in Spain

Telegram is a messaging application focused on speed and security. This is how the platform, which has 900 million users worldwide and is the second-most used after WhatsApp, defines itself. It is extra popular due to its emphasis on privacy and its efficient security system for uploading files and accessing them from any device.

It was precisely these factors that led Judge Pedraz to order the precautionary suspension of the application following the complaint filed by television companies Mediaset, Atresmedia and Movistar Plus and the Audiovisual Producers' Rights Management Entity Egeda, who accused Telegram of redistributing their content without their permission, in violation of copyright.

The app has around 8.5 million users in Spain. According to a recent CNMC survey, 18% of Internet users use Telegram and one in four of its users open it several times a day, while 28% open it at least once, according to Statista data. However, its use as a platform for illegal file downloading is not the majority, nor what has made it a popular app among people who share pirated content.

As the app itself explains in its terms of use, Telegram is cloud-based messaging with constant synchronisation unlike WhatsApp. As a result, users "can access their messages from different devices at the same time, including tablets and computers, and share an unlimited number of photos, videos and files (doc, zip, mp3, etc.) of up to 2 gigabytes each".

Telegram has robust encryption of conversations and of the files shared on its application. Its revolutionary privacy policy is based on avoiding the practices of US platforms, which leave security holes which allow access to US security services. Unlike other similar apps, it does not base its business on extracting personal data for advertising. Telegram is yet to respond to Judge Pedraz's order to block its use in Spain.

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