Brazil suspends Telegram app for non-compliance in neo-Nazi probe

A Brazilian court ordered the countrywide suspension of the Telegram messaging app after its parent company failed to provide data requested by authorities about neo-Nazis operating on the platform.

As part of an investigation following a spate of violent school attacks, the authorities requested data from the Telegram messaging platform about neo-Nazis operating on the network. However, the parent company failed to provide the sought data. Hence, a Brazilian court fined them $198,000 per day for „not complying” and temporarily suspended the application, which is installed on 53 per cent of the Brazilian population’s cell phones, reports the France24.

„There are groups called ‘Anti-Semitic Front’ and ‘Anti-Semitic Movement’ acting in those networks, and we know that this is at the core of violence against our children,” said Justice Minister Flavio Dino.

In the past months, numerous violent school attacks have occurred in Brazil, and at least one of them is linked to exchanges on a group with anti-Semitic leanings. Earlier this month, a man killed four children between the ages of four and seven at their school, the same week two other non-fatal school attacks took place. Last month, a 13-year-old boy killed a teacher in a knife attack at school. In November, a 16-year-old shooter killed four people and injured more than ten others in twin attacks on two schools. According to police sources, the latter perpetrator had allegedly interacted with anti-Semitic groups on Telegram.

According to a document from the federal justice authority, investigators had asked Telegram for the personal data of the members of two stated antisemitic groups on the platform; however, the company only handed over data about the administrator of one of the groups and was not compliant in the ongoing investigation.

The government recently announced social media restrictions to curb the „epidemic” of school attacks. Social media companies will be required to send data to the police on all users sharing violent content and will need to block banned users from creating new profiles.