Spanish judge orders internet providers to block Telegram for copyright infringement 

Consumer rights organization labels move "absolutely disproportionate" 

A mobile phone showing the Catalan News Agency's Telegram channel
A mobile phone showing the Catalan News Agency's Telegram channel / ACN

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona/Madrid

March 23, 2024 11:38 AM

March 24, 2024 04:50 PM

A judge at Spain's National Court has ordered internet providers in Spain to block Telegram in response to copyright infringement claims from media companies Mediaset, Atresmedia and Movistar Plus. 

The decision was announced on Friday evening but the messaging app was still functioning as of Sunday afternoon. 

The court injunction states that Telegram – created in 2013 by Russian brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov – must cease operation while an investigation is carried out. 

The court gave networks three hours to suspend access to Telegram, starting from the receipt of the judicial notice. 

Telecoms operators confirmed to the Catalan News Agency (ACN) on Sunday afternoon that they still had not yet received the judicial notice from Spain's National Court.

COETTC, a professional association for telecoms engineers, released a statement saying that was "very likely" that notice would be received on Monday, March 25. They added that appeals can be submitted and that the suspension therefore may not take effect until March 29.

'Absolutely disproportionate'

Consumer rights organization Facua called the decision from Judge Santiago Pedraz "absolutely disproportionate." 

"It's like shutting down the internet because there are websites that illegally host copyrighted content, or cutting off all television signals because there are pirate channels," said Rubén Sánchez, Facua general secretary. 

Facua expects Telegram to be progressively blocked "in the coming hours or days," as telecommunications companies are obliged to accept the court order. 

The ban will cause "enormous harm" to millions of Telegram users and for the companies, organizations and public and private institutions that disseminate content lawfully through the platform, Sánchez said. 

The investigation is due to last a maximum of six months, until September 29.