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20 Jan, 2022 11:02

Telegram threatened with removal from app stores in EU country

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has called on tech giants to take responsibility for apps that harbor illegal content
Telegram threatened with removal from app stores in EU country

Following a meeting with regional governments, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has reaffirmed the government’s aggressive stance on Telegram, pressuring the company to address its hands-off approach to extremist content on its platform.

Taking to Twitter, Faeser called on Apple and Google to accept responsibility for apps that are offered in their stores.

Specifically naming Telegram, Faeser claimed that the app provides a platform that accelerates the spread of “right-wing extremism” and “conspiracy theories,” as well as more serious calls for harm against individuals.

“The social network Telegram and comparable providers serve people in Germany as a networking [platform for Covid protest movements], corona deniers and right-wing radicals,” a joint statement from regional interior ministers said.

The remarks come days after Germany threatened to block Telegram in the country as a “last resort” if the company fails to work with the government and halt the spreading of hatred and extremism on its platform.

Germany has clashed with Telegram over the belief that the app infringes on the nation’s Network Enforcement Act, which requires social media companies to quickly remove illegal content after an official complaint is filed.

The German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) have previously accused Telegram of failing to respond when asked to delete far-right content, according to the country’s Die Welt newspaper. In 2021, the German government claimed it never received a reply from the company’s headquarters after sending letters in April demanding Telegram provide an official with a person to contact if they need to complain about content.

Earlier in January, speaking to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann warned Telegram must “adhere to our laws” or face being fined millions of euros.

The German government’s campaign to challenge Telegram comes as the app rises in popularity in the country. Data released by Statista shows that, between 2018 and 2021, the percentage of messenger users who regularly use the app rose from 7% to 15%.