Opinion – Ronaldo Lemos: Implications of blocking Telegram

Opinion – Ronaldo Lemos: Implications of blocking Telegram

On Friday (18), the Federal Supreme Court, in a monocratic decision, determined the blocking of Telegram in Brazil. The app —which is useful— has unfortunately adopted the trick of completely ignoring the law of the countries in which it operates. Legitimate court orders issued in countries that are constitutional democracies are simply ignored.

The word “molecule” applies well here. Telegram is clearly a useful app that has introduced important innovations in the model of digital messengers. With that, it gained a considerable volume of users in the world, of which 50 million in Brazil. The Brazilian cryptocurrency community is very active on Telegram, as are several other innovative activities.

In addition, the app has been an important communication tool —alongside other digital platforms—in extreme situations, such as in Ukraine, and within populations subjected to authoritarian regimes.

What is not understandable is how Telegram – which in theory criticizes autocracies and proclaims itself as a defender of freedoms – in practice acts exactly like an autocracy and the worst.

By not responding to the orders of courts legitimately constituted by constitutional democratic countries, the application shows that it only serves the will of a single person: its founder. In this case, a young Russian raised in Italy whose main hobby is posting shirtless photos on Instagram.

Not even the founders of the main big techs, however taken by hubris they may be, were capable of ignoring the existence of institutions created by national states, such as the Judiciary.

Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google and TikTok respect the institutions of the countries in which they operate. In fact, the founder of Telegram thinks that his individual will overrides that of all political communities on the planet. Their individual values, choices and vices are above other people and institutions. History reserves several names for those who act in this way, none of them laudatory.

Telegram’s mischief is even manifested in the way the app responds to court orders that go against the vision of its founder. When other countries issue institutional orders that Telegram displeases, their action is either to ignore or to spend money and technological resources to evade those same orders. For example, implementing proxies and taking hostage other legitimate companies (such as cloud storage), merged with their own service to hamper any institutional response against the company.

It is worth mentioning that the order issued by the STF has numerous legal problems. For example, it wrongly uses the Marco Civil da Internet as the basis for the decision. Marco Civil does not allow blocking of websites or internet services.

However, there is a more effective way to deal with a misguided court order: responding legally within the scope of the legal process with more legal arguments, as anyone does under the rule of law. And not putting a company with global operations, with millions of users and hundreds of employees, to behave like an arrogant, vain and runaway brat.


It’s over The patience of the Brazilian Justice with Telegram
AlreadyBlocking court order against Telegram
It’s comingDifficulty in complying with the Telegram block (or the company appearing before the country’s Justice)

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