BERLIN – German authorities have launched a lawsuit against Telegram which could see operators of the messaging app fined for failing to comply with laws requiring social media sites to monitor the actions of their users.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported this weekend that officials believe the use of the Telegram app has reached a threshold where it can be treated the same as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok when it comes to demanding cooperation with German authorities.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice confirmed on Monday that authorities had written to Telegram operators in the United Arab Emirates about its inability to provide a channel for filing complaints and a contact person in Germany.
“The company now has the opportunity to respond,” spokeswoman Rabea Boennighausen told reporters in Berlin.
Der Spiegel has indicated that the company could face fines of up to € 5.5 million if it does not comply with the requirements.
Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Telegram, which was founded by Russian brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, has grown in popularity in Germany in recent years, including among right-wing groups and those opposing the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Germany’s parliament passed the Network Enforcement Act in 2017 with the stated aim of ensuring that the country’s current limits on expression, including the long-standing ban on Holocaust denial, can be enforced online. .
Opponents argued that the law risked stifling freedom of expression.