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26 Apr, 2023 21:51

Brazil bans Telegram over neo-Nazi data

The messenger app allegedly declined to provide the Supreme Court with the phone numbers of administrators of a group with neo-Nazi content
Brazil bans Telegram over neo-Nazi data

Google, Apple, and four Brazilian telecom companies have been ordered to remove Telegram from their app stores and other platforms after the company failed to turn over all the requested data of neo-Nazi group administrators, the PF Intelligence Directorate announced on Wednesday.

Telegram will be fined 1 million reals ($198,000) per day as long as it continues to refuse to provide the data. 

While Telegram delivered some of the contacts and data the authorities requested on Friday, it did not supply the telephone numbers of members and administrators in a group with neo-Nazi content, the authorities said. Since then, it has been fined 100,000 reals per day.

Police demanded access to the data after determining the 16-year-old who shot four people dead and wounded nearly a dozen more at two schools in Aracruz in November had been spreading anti-Semitic content on Telegram groups.

He also shared “murder tutorials,” videos depicting violent deaths, bomb-making tutorials, and material promoting hatred of minorities and neo-Nazi ideals, police stated in their data request to Telegram, which was seen by Brazilian news outlet Globo.

Investigators hope to learn more about the connections between extremist group members and administrators and whether the group influenced the shooter to commit his crime. 

The 16-year-old was wearing a swastika on his military fatigues when he opened fire at his former school, then fled to another nearby school to continue the killing. The shooter, a policeman’s son who used his father’s legal weapons to carry out the killings, was reportedly undergoing psychiatric treatment. 

Some 302 arrests and 270 search and seizure operations have been carried out in the course of Operation Safe School, Justice Minister Flavio Dino revealed last week. A total of 1,738 violent incidents and threats are being investigated based on 2,593 police reports.

School shootings have been on the rise in Brazil in recent years, a phenomenon some have blamed on former President Jair Bolsonaro’s loosening of the gun laws. His successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, halted the issuing of new gun licenses in one of his first acts as president, vowing to disarm Brazil.

The Brazilian government previously acted to suspend Telegram last year, claiming the platform had refused to freeze accounts spreading alleged disinformation, though service was restored two days later. 

Telegram was again fined in January for not suspending the account of popular right-wing federal representative Nikolas Ferreira after the platform questioned what laws Ferreira had broken.

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