The Telegram messaging application has been ordered to pay a fine of 5.125 million euros to Germany for not respecting the country’s laws.
The Russian secure messaging application on mobiles had been under threat of sanctions by the German federal government for several months. This fine is only a first step before possibly heavier sanctions.
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Telegram refuses to comply with German law.
The company created by Pavel and Nikolaï Durov will have to answer to Germany for allowing hate speech and conspiracies to increase on the platform.
According to the country’s laws, messaging services must have methods to report hateful content to the authorities. They must also appoint an entity on-site in Germany capable of receiving any official communication on their behalf. Telegram hadn’t set anything up.
The statement by The Associated Press also says the government has tried several times to contact the Dubai-based company, to no avail, despite help from UAE authorities.
If Telegram has since hired a German law firm to represent them, this is not enough for justice, which condemned the company to pay a fine of 5.125 million euros.
A situation that could have been avoided
Due to its dark history, Germany is one of the countries in Europe with the most freedom of expression laws. Hate speech is scrutinized and can land the person who utters it directly in prison.
The country does not exclude social networks and observes them even more closely—increased surveillance with the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting conspiratorial discourse.
Telegram usage in Germany has risen sharply recently, and the government has repeatedly asked the app to remove anti-vaccine or conspiratorial chat groups. Requests remained unanswered by the company, which advocates total freedom of expression.
After discovering chat groups filled with death threats against pro-vaccine elected officials earlier this year, the government again called Telegram to order, brandishing the threat of a fine and even banishment if nothing was done.
This is, therefore, the first step taken, commented directly by the Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann.
“The operators of messaging services and social networks bear a particular responsibility in their actions against incitement to hatred and violence on their platforms. These legal obligations and this responsibility cannot be ignored by being unreachable. »
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