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Judge Pedraz backs down and definitively rules out the blocking of Telegram | Technology

The judge of the National Court Santiago Pedraz has decided to definitively suspend the blocking of Telegram. This morning the magistrate had requested a report from the General Information Commissioner’s Office to explain the exact characteristics of Telegram “as well as the impact that said temporary suspension may have on users.”

A few hours later, at noon this Monday, Judge Pedraz published a new order in which he announced that he was definitively suspending his initial decision to block Telegram. It would have been an excessive and non-proportional measure, the magistrate has admitted. After the publication of the suspension last Friday, Pedraz admits that he “cannot ignore” the consequences of his initial decision: “The possible impact of multiple users in the event of a possible suspension and therefore whether or not the measure is proportional ”.

The new order admits that, despite a multitude of criminal activities, Telegram also welcomes many users to whom “it provides ‘benefits’ that other platforms do not provide. And all this under a ‘privacy protection’.” It also takes into account the economic impact for organizations that use Telegram in their daily activities: “The precautionary measure against Telegram would have a certain economic impact for companies or societies that carry out a large part of their communication activity through this communication platform, since they consider it a reliable and secure channel against unwanted interventions.”

The judge of the National Court seems to take into account the majority of the reactions published and commented on on networks and media since Friday night. He also said that his measure would be easy to circumvent: “The measure could not be ideal because users could use a VPN network or a proxy to access Telegram.”

After announcing the suspension of the blockade, Pedraz leaves the solution to the conflict in European legislation, which in its new Digital Services Law already foresees that large service providers, such as Telegram, assume their responsibilities when it comes to moderating the content they allow to be shared. . to its users.

The announcement of the suspension this Friday night caused an unprecedented stir among the more than eight million users that Telegram has in Spain. The difficulty for operators to block an application of this magnitude was extraordinary. Other countries have failed in their attempts to limit a platform like Telegram, with much content linked to dissident activities in undemocratic or directly illicit or illegal countries.

The initial measure to block Telegram was taken at the request of Mediaset, Atresmedia and Movistar Plus. Media groups have denounced the application because, on some of its channels, content protected by copyright is shared. Judge Pedraz issued an order so that, within three hours of receiving it, the operators suspended the resources associated with Telegram. This Monday morning, the operators consulted by EL PAÍS had not received any notification.

Telegram is an instant messaging application, launched in 2013 and directed by Russian-born businessman Pavel Durov. Since its inception, it stood out as an alternative to WhatsApp for the freedom and privacy of the user, refusing to share information with the authorities, as the Meta application does. This made Telegram the communication channel used by dissidents in authoritarian regimes such as Russia or Iran, where it has been used to organize protests. But it has also caused channels of sensitive content to flourish, protected from anonymity: drug sales, far-right activities, disinformation, dissemination of violent content, child pornography or terrorism. Without going any further, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Moscow attack this Friday on its Telegram channel.

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