Spain Blocked — Then Unblocked — Telegram This Weekend Over Copyright Infringement Claims

Telegram banned in Spain, then unbanned
  • Save

Telegram banned in Spain, then unbanned
  • Save
Photo Credit: Lana Codes

On March 23rd, Spain’s High Court issued an order blocking the chat app Telegram in the country after complaints from media companies. Now, the same judge has halted the order until after a police report investigating the impact of the ban is submitted.

Several media companies allege the media app allows users to upload TV and video content without permission to channels featuring hundreds of users. Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the order calling for a temporary ban on March 23rd. But Judge Pedraz rescinded the order on March 25th pending an investigative report. Telegram is an alternative to WhatsApp and is currently the fourth most popular messaging app in Spain—with around eight million users.

Telegram boss Pavel Durov told the Financial Times that the company passed 900 million users in 2022 with a paid premium tier. If Telegram’s growth trajectory continues it could have more than one billion users before the end of 2024.

Durov says potential investors in the platform have offered the company valuations of $30 billion, though an IPO is currently under consideration for the messaging giant.

With such a massive user base and growing, it’s little wonder why the ban in Spain sparked backlash. Fernando Suárez compared the action “like deciding to close a province of our country because a case of drug trafficking or a robbery occurred within the territory.” Meanwhile, Spanish consumers’ association FACUA says it welcomes an investigation into the impact of a ban.

“We celebrate that after a barrage of criticism, Judge Pedraz has paused his disproportionate order of a precautionary blocking of Telegram,” the group said in a statement on X/Twitter. Spain’s High Court sought information from Telegram pertaining to accounts that spread pirated content in July 2023. The ban may still come into effect, depending on the results of the police investigation.

The move comes as the broader EU crackdown on tech companies and how they operate within the region.