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Spanish judge orders nationwide suspension of Telegram

MADRID, Spain — A Spanish judge has ordered the online messaging service Telegram suspended in a case brought by broadcasters alleging violation of intellectual property, a ruling criticized by one consumer group.

Judge Santiago Pedraz of the Audencia Nacional, a senior court that handles sensitive cases, ordered a "temporary suspension" of Telegram's resources.

The order was issued on Friday but at midday on Saturday the platform was still up and running in Spain.

Consumer rights group Facua criticised the ruling as disproportionate, warning it would cause "enormous damage" to millions of users of the platform.

"It is as if they shut down the internet because there are websites that illegally host content protected by copyright," said Facua's general secretary Ruben Sanchez in a statement.

Facua named the media groups involved in the case as Mediaset, Atresmedia, Movistar and Egeda.

Telegram is an encrypted messaging platform that also allows users to set up their own channels to broadcast content.

The judge issued the order after officials in the Virgin Islands, where Telegram is registered as a business, failed to respond to a July 2023 court request for information.

The media companies have complained that their material is being used on Telegram without their consent.

The court wanted information that would allow it to identify who was behind the accounts in question.

In Friday's order, the judge said it was the lack of cooperation from the Virgin Islands that had led him to take this "precautionary measure".

The order met the principles of "necessity, appropriateness and proportionality" he added.

"No other measure exists that can stop a repeat of the actions denounced," he argued.

Telegram, which claims 700 million monthly active users across the world, stresses the speed and security of its platform.