Why Telegram is under investigation in Germany

Why Telegram is under investigation in Germany

German authorities criticize the app for not taking steps to block neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitic content. Risks a 55 million fine

Telegram (Photo: Rafael Henrique / Getty Images) Telegram could receive a 55 million euro fine from Germany. The German authorities have opened an investigation into the messaging application, accusing it of not complying with national laws on controlling the actions of social media users, particularly with respect to neo-Nazi propaganda. According to Berlin, the spread of Telegram has reached such a level that it falls under the same rules that Facebook, Twitter and TikTok respect.

The application owned by the Russian Pavel Durov, based in Dubai, has been installed on about 570 million smartphones. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, its popularity has grown tremendously, especially in Europe, also due to the new rules on personal data imposed by WhatsApp. Telegram however works in a very different way from WhatsApp: it can have one-way channels - in which only managers can communicate to other members - others managed by bots and Durov has always refused to collaborate with the authorities of any country, describing his platform as outside the reach of states.

In Germany, the app has become the preferred communication site for neo-Nazi groups, such as the Querdenker movement. In 2017, the German parliament passed a law that extended bans on Nazi, anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial propaganda to online channels as well. For this reason, as reported by the daily Der Spiegel, a spokesman for the German Ministry of Justice announced that it had sent the first formal communications to the Telegram operators. The accusation is that it has not provided an official channel for filing complaints against user behavior and that it has not indicated an official stationed in Germany who can be held responsible for the conduct of users in the country. Telegram has not yet responded to the accusations of the German authorities and risks a hefty fine.

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