(FiveNation.com)- Last week, Germany’s Minister of the Interior doubled down in the country’s ongoing battle with messaging app Telegram, warning that if Telegram continues to violate German law, Germany would shut it down.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told Die Zeit weekly last Wednesday that while a shutdown would be grave, Germany would not rule it out as a last resort to get Telegram to cooperate.
Telegram has been a popular messaging app among “far-right” groups as well as groups protesting Germany’s draconian COVID restrictions. Over the last few months, Germany has been in a battle of wills with Telegram over “extremist” content.
Germany’s targeting of Telegram reached a fever pitch in December after several anti-vaxxers were arrested in Dresden for allegedly plotting on Telegram to kill the governor of Saxony. After the arrests, politicians and government officials demanded Telegram be deemed a social media network rather than a messaging service, to force it to abide by new rules governing content deemed “extremist” or criminal.
Starting in February, social media platforms operating in Germany will be required by law to report unlawful content to authorities. Instant-messaging services like Telegram, however, are currently exempt from the law. And many in the German government view this exemption as a loophole that must be closed.
Last month, Germany’s minister of justice Marco Buschmann argued that an EU-wide effort would send a stronger message to Telegram than having each country do it on its own.
Buschmann told reporters that even if the EU was successful in bringing Telegram to heel, it wasn’t enough to end the problem of online “hate speech” and “extremism” since “radicals will find new ways and platforms.”
Interior Minister Faeser, frustrated that German officials have had no response from Telegram regarding their concerns, said in December that Telegram’s disregard would not be tolerated by Berlin, so it is hardly a surprise that she is now threatening to shut Telegram down.
Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, made it the instant-messaging app’s policy not to cooperate with authorities in any country. In 2017, Durov refused to grant Russian security services access to communications between terror suspects. In response, Russia banned the service in 2018. However, the ban was unenforceable and Russia eventually lifted it in June 2020.