A Portuguese court has reportedly issued an order stating that the cloud-based instant messaging platform –Telegram blocks access to over a dozen piracy-related channels that have housed millions of members in total.
The report says that the Portuguese court was acting with respect to complaints filed by Visapress, which is a representation of several newspaper and magazine publishers, and also the Portuguese film industry association, GEDIPE. The groups have complained that about 17 channels are publicly available through the Telegram platform. Together, these channels reportedly have over 10 million members who share a wide range of movies, TV shows, newspapers, and magazines, and other intellectual properties.
Although the instant messaging platform is one that enables its users to create devise channels allowing them to send messages to all their members. However, reports say this feature combined with the ability Telegram has given users to host large files that have manifested in the regular abuse by pirates to share copyrighted content. Since some channels have more than a million users, who come from all over the world, this type of sharing activity can’t be characterized as personal use. The rights holders, therefore, argue that Telegram should block the channels with immediate effect.
The Portuguese court after reviewing all arguments came to a conclusion that it was safe to grant a blocking injunction. The court recognizes the importance of freedom of expression as a rule which guides the internet but it sees this injunction as appropriate and proportionate to cub further displeasure or chaos.
Interestingly, while the court recognized that ordering a block may not be perfect, it argued that it’s better than taking no action at all. Carlos Eugénio, Executive Director of Visapress, while speaking about the outcome of the court proceedings, he commended the court order as an important victory that would go a long way in the battle against online piracy, though he admitted that the blocking measures can be circumvented.
Eugénio revealed that “Changing the name of the groups and chats is a simple way that their administrators have to bypass the court order but Telegram knows this. In my opinion, this decision obliges them to remove or block access to these groups and chats.”
Interestingly, the court order had to be issued in the absence of Telegram, despite several attempts from the local embassy to contact them through its Dubai address. While Telegram didn’t get a chance to administer defend the allegation in court, Eugénio hopes that Telegram will get the message and ultimately comply with the orders Portuguese court or stand being blocked entirely.
Telegram is an app that has long been recognized to be in rivalry with WhatsApp, recently Telegram hits its 1Billion play store installations milestone. Telegram and Whatsapp will always be rivals, users will always have their favorite. In 2018, a Russian court issued an approval to block Telegram after being accused of being a threat to the Russian government who has been seeking means to exude control over online communications. The Russian court began legal proceedings to block the Telegram app after the firm refused to unlock encrypted messages. The decision to block was reached after Telegram missed a deadline of April 4 to submit the encryption keys to the Russian state security services.