A judge of the Brazilian Supreme Court has ordered the blockade of the chat app Telegram in the country. According to judge Alexandre de Moraes, the app has repeatedly refused to comply with court orders to block accounts that spread disinformation or do not comply with the laws of the country.
The order is seen as a major setback for right-wing populist President Bolsonaro, who has a million followers on Telegram and uses the app extensively for his campaign to be re-elected in the presidential election in October. Bolsonaro calls the statement “inadmissible”.
According to judge De Moraes, Telegram has not complied with a request from the police to block profiles and messages linked to blogger Allan dos Santos. He comes from Bolsonaro’s circle and is accused of spreading disinformation.
Also, Telegram does not have a legal representative in Brazil, while other chat service providers do have such a representative. The judge says the idea to block the app comes from the federal police.
De Moraes issued an arrest warrant in October for Dos Santons, who now lives in the United States. The blogger tells a pro-Bolsonaro channel that the judge’s decisions are “only based on what De Moraes wants”. “There comes a time when he has to stop or will be stopped,” he said. “I don’t think the Brazilians will accept these atrocities.”
One of the founders of Telegram, Pavel Durov, says there has been miscommunication. According to him, the Supreme Court used an old, generic email address to contact Telegram. He asks the court to postpone the ruling for a few days so that Telegram can still comply with the judge’s demands.