EU state mandates Telegram's suspension

The service was the focus of Spain's highest court after copyright allegations.

EU state mandates Telegram's suspension
The Telegram app displayed on a smartphone screen © SOPA Images / Contributor via Getty Images

The usage of the Telegram instant messaging service has been suspended by internet providers in Spain by the National Court of Spain, pending an inquiry into the copyright infringement charges.

Friday’s ruling came after Spain’s four leading media organizations – Mediaset, Atresmedia, Movistar, and Egeda – filed a complaint arguing that the platform allows users to distribute their content without permission.

According to local media, Judge Santiago Pedraz requested certain information from Telegram’s owners as part of the probe. After the request was not fulfilled, he ordered the access to the app to be blocked effective Monday. The judge described the measure as “precautionary” and cited Telegram’s lack of cooperation. The suspension is expected to last throughout the investigation.

The newspaper El Pais said that Telegram largely remains accessible in Spain, although some users have begun reporting problems with the service since Friday night.

The ruling was met with widespread criticism. Consumer rights watchdog FACUA called it “absolutely disproportionate” and said that the blocking of the popular service will cause “enormous damage.”

“It would be like shutting down the internet because there are websites that illegally host copyrighted content, or cutting the entire television signal because there are channels that engage in piracy,” FACUA Secretary General Ruben Sanchez said in a statement.

Fernando Suarez, the president of the General Council of Professional Associations of Computer Engineering in Spain, made a similar point, comparing the suspension of Telegram to “completely closing off one province in our country because there was a case of drug trafficking or theft on that territory.”

According to a survey conducted by independent competition regulator CNMC, nearly 19% of Spaniards are using Telegram.

Users of the cloud-based platform Telegram can share media files, make voice calls, text each other, and broadcast live to the public. The platform was introduced in 2013 by businessman Pavel Durov, who was born in Russia. As per the industry news website Business of Apps, the number of active users hit 800 million in 2023.