The Brazilian Supreme Court has ordered social platform Telegram to be suspended and barred from operating in the country until it complies with outstanding court orders.
Brazilian Justice Alexandre de Moraes said that the messaging app has repeatedly failed to follow Brazilian law and failed to comply with court orders to freeze accounts that allegedly spread disinformation, according to a copy of the ruling seen by Reuters.
According to Moraes’s ruling, Telegram has repeatedly failed to block offending accounts and ignored the court’s decisions.
Moraes gave telecoms regulator Anatel 24 hours to implement the suspension, which would stand until Telegram complies with outstanding court orders, pays a series of fines, and presents a country representative before the court.
Anatel said it had “forwarded the judicial decision to the entities operating in the regulated sector.”
The judge also ordered Apple and Google to help block users on their platforms from being able to use Telegram in Brazil.
Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said in a statement on his Telegram channel that there was “an issue” with emails between Telegram and the Brazilian Supreme Court, and asked the court to consider delaying its ruling for a few days to allow the company to “remedy the situation by appointing a representative in Brazil and setting up a framework to react to future pressing issues like this in an expedited manner.”
“As a result of this miscommunication, the Court ruled to ban Telegram for being unresponsive,” Durov said. “On behalf of our team, I apologize to the Brazilian Supreme Court for our negligence. We definitely could have done a better job.”
“The last 3 weeks have been unprecedented for the world and for Telegram. Our content moderation team was flooded with requests from multiple parties,” Durov said.
“However, I am certain that once a reliable channel of communication is established, we’ll be able to efficiently process takedown requests for public channels that are illegal in Brazil.”
Following the judge’s ruling, Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro posted on Twitter inviting people to join his Telegram channel.
“Our Telegram brings many actions of national interest every day, regrettably omitted by many. Welcome and share the truth,” he wrote.
Brazilian Justice Minister Anderson Torres also posted on Twitter, calling Moraes’s decision “monocratic.”
“Millions of Brazilians being suddenly harmed by a monocratic decision,” he wrote. “I have already determined to several sectors of [the Ministry of Justice and Public Security] that they immediately study a solution to restore the people’s right to use the social network they want.”
Reuters contributed to this report.