A report in the German newspaper Die Welt suggests that the government there is considering taking action to shut down messaging app Telegram because people opposed to COVID restrictions and lockdowns are using it to organise protests and share information.
The report contains an interview with German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser who stated “We cannot rule this out,” when asked if the platform will be targeted for censorship.
“A shutdown would be grave and clearly a last resort. All other options must be exhausted first,” Faeser clarified. The minister also told the newspaper that while it is currently unclear what legal action would be needed to shut down the platform, the German government is in consultation with the European Union regarding potential regulation of it.
The Epoch Times notes that in Germany, which has implemented some of the most severe pandemic restrictions, “Telegram has been used as a hub of communication for the protest movement against the measures established to fight the CCP virus, including lockdowns, intermittent mask mandates, and restrictions for the unvaccinated.”
Telegram has been shut down or blocked in other countries including Iran, China, Pakistan, India, Thailand, and Russia. The platform saw a huge surge in users last year after Facebook owned WhatsApp introduced a controversial privacy update which led to concerns that the app would hand over user data to its parent company. It also came at the same time as President Trump’s purge from big tech social media platforms.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov warned that people are “being held hostage by tech monopolies.” In addition to being independent from big tech, Telegram promises robust end-to-end encryption, ensuring messages remain private. This has made Telegram a target for authoritarians and big tech monopolists.
Authorities do not like apps such as Telegram because they cannot snoop on users messages. Governments around the world now believe that they have the right to eavesdrop on anyone as online privacy becomes a thing of the past. Germany's move mirrors that of Russia's who have already banned the app due to fears they cannot control it. In 2018 a court a court in Moscow approved a request from the Russian media regulator to block the Telegram messaging app. Just as German authorities are doing right now, Russian officials claimed that they had to have access to the 'Encryption Key' so they could monitor terrorism, in reality though, the app is seen as something the government can't control. Russia's main security agency, the FSB, claimed that Telegram was the messenger of choice for "international terrorist organisations in Russia". Germany has 'criminalised' those who haven't taken the vaccine and in doing so their rights and freedoms can be stripped from them.