The Technical Challenge of Banning Telegram: Judge Santiago Pedraz Delays Action Pending Report from General Information Commissioner’s Office

Judge Pedraz reverses decision and halts blocking of Telegram

Judge Santiago Pedraz has decided to request a report from the General Information Commissioner before taking any action to block the Telegram messaging platform in Spain. The magistrate wants the report to detail the specific features of Telegram and how a temporary suspension could impact users. However, there is no information on what deadlines have been set or what can be expected from this report from the General Information Commissioner’s Office.

The announcement of the suspension on Friday night caused an unprecedented stir among the eight million users of Telegram in Spain. The technical challenge for operators to block an application of this scale was extraordinary, as other countries have failed in their attempts to limit similar platforms, with much content linked to dissident activities in undemocratic or illegal countries.

The initial decision to block Telegram was taken by media groups Mediaset, Atresmedia, and Movistar Plus due to copyrighted content being shared on some channels. The National Court judge Santiago Pedraz issued an order that operators associated with Telegram suspend resources within three hours of receiving it. However, operators consulted by EL PAÍS had not received any notification as of Monday morning.

Telegram is an instant messaging application launched in 2013 by Russian-born businessman Pavel Durov and is known for its focus on user freedom and privacy, refusing to share information with authorities like Meta does. Since its launch, it has been used by dissidents in authoritarian regimes such as Russia and Iran for organizing protests and sharing sensitive content protected by anonymity, such as drug sales, far-right activities, disinformation, violent content, child pornography or terrorism. Despite these concerns, however, there are still many legitimate uses for the platform that should not be restricted solely based on fears about illicit content.

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