Germany: Justice Minister Demands Europe-Wide Crackdown on Telegram

Marco Buschmann

So, this is happening.

No one could have predicted it.


Germany’s minister of justice has spoken in favor of common European action against Telegram over the spread of extremist content on the instant-messaging service.

Speaking to German media, Marco Buschmann argued that a concerted EU-wide effort would “make a bigger impression” on Telegram, as opposed to “each country trying to do that on its own.” The minister, who was sworn in earlier this month, went on to say that it was in Telegram’s own best interest to have uninterrupted access to the European market now that the service has turned to ads in a bid to monetize the platform’s popularity.

Buschmann, however, warned that even if the EU succeeded in bringing Telegram to heel, that alone would not end the problem of hate speech and extremism online, as “radicals will find new ways and platforms.”

The debate over Telegram intensified in Germany earlier this month after several radical anti-vaxxers had been arrested in the city of Dresden over allegedly plotting on the platform to kill the governor of the state of Saxony. Following the police raids, calls were made to start considering Telegram not as a mere messaging service, but rather a social media network, which would oblige the service to abide by stricter rules regarding content deemed extremist or criminal.

Starting from February 2022, social media platforms will be required by German law to report unlawful content to authorities. However, instant-messaging services are exempt, which many regional interior ministers in Germany see as a loophole that should be addressed.

The push has been backed by Minister of Justice Buschmann, who argued that there could be no place for a “blanket exemption for messengers.” He went on to say that the creation of a common European approach would be one of the biggest “political challenges” faced by the EU.

So far, all known attempts to communicate with Telegram on the part of German officials have fallen on deaf ears. The country’s new minister of the interior, Nancy Faeser, warned that the government in Berlin is “not going to put up with it.”

Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, made it the messenger’s policy not to cooperate with authorities in any country. Back in 2017, he refused to grant Russian security services access to communications between terror suspects. Russian authorities eventually banned the service the following year. However, the ban proved hard to enforce effectively and was lifted in June 2020.

The target isn’t Telegram.

They don’t want a response from Telegram.

They want a response from Apple and Google, who have a duopoly on what apps you’re allowed to download, and have already cooperated together to ban apps.

Apple and Google are going to contact Durov at some point, and tell him what he needs to ban to stay on their platforms.

Then, they’ll contact him with another list.

And then another list.

And so on.

This was so predictable that not only I predicted it, but Durov himself predicted it.

No, the Epic case didn’t solve this issue.