Germany’s leftist federal interior minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is threatening to ban Telegram—one of the most popular messaging applications in the world—if the company continues to fail to comply with the country’s laws which require social media companies to moderate content uploaded by their users.
The federal interior minister’s remarks, which were published in the German newspaper Die Welt last week, follows similar statements made by high-level government officials and comes as anti-lockdown protesters, vaccine skeptics, and so-called ‘lateral thinkers’ continue to use the messaging service as a tool to organize demonstrations against pandemic-related restrictions.
“We cannot rule this out,” Faeser told the weekly newspaper when asked if the government would ban the messaging platform. “A shutdown would be grave and clearly a last resort. All other options must be exhausted first.”
The minister added that Germany is presently discussing how to regulate Telegram with its partners in the European Union.
“Today Telegram is in Dubai, tomorrow maybe on the Cayman Islands,” Faeser continued, adding: “We will need a lot of strength to enforce the law. As a German nation-state, we cannot do it alone.”
Although it remains uncertain which legal mechanisms Germany—and other EU member states—might employ to censor the tech platform, many have speculated that such a shutdown could involve governments compelling internet providers like Telkom, Vodafone, and others to block access to the platform. Additionally, as The European Conservative has previously reported, governments could force Google and Apple to ban Telegram from their application stores—thereby making it impossible for users to download the app.
In her remarks, the federal interior ministers joins a growing chorus of left-liberal politicians in Germany who’ve called for the application to be banned. Previously, Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP), Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), Interior Minister of Lower Saxony Boris Pistorius (SPD), and SPD Chairwoman Saskia Esken have all voiced their support for a ban.
Several days ago, in the days which proceeded the federal interior minister’s remarks, the leftist state interior minister of Thuringia, Georg Maier (SPD), also urged the government to take immediate action against the tech platform, claiming that the app serves as a vector of ‘hate speech.’
If it ultimately decides to move against the messaging service, Germany will join countries like China, Iran, Pakistan, Belarus, and Cuba who’ve also banned the application in the past.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.