German government refuses to rule out shutting down Telegram over hate threats

The app has given a platform to far-right groups and people opposed to pandemic-related restrictions, with concerns that this has led to a rise in violations of German law.

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Germany has not ruled out the idea of shutting down cloud-based messaging service Telegram.

The app has given a platform to far-right groups and people opposed to pandemic-related restrictions, causing concerns that this has led to a rise in violations of German law.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in remarks published on Wednesday: “We cannot rule this out, a shutdown would be grave and clearly a last resort, all other options must be exhausted first" she told De Zeit Weekly.

Faeser added that Germany is speaking to its partners within the European Union about ways of regulating the service.

Messages are protected from snooping as they are sent between users in an encrypted chat, and a group system allows for messages to be broadcast quickly.

The service is seen as one of the easiest ways to send encrypted messages, resulting in a surge in popularity.

The features have proven to be controversial, as it has allowed people to organise criminal activity out of law enforcement's sight.

The service is seen as a source of conspiracy theories and hate speech in Germany, especially as the Covid pandemic has come into force. Anti-lockdown activists are believed to favour the platform.

A minority of Germans have shown strong resistance to vaccinations, and latest figures say 72% of people are "fully vaccinated".

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has backed calls for a vaccine mandate in Germany and MPs are expected to begin debating the issue later this month.

Other countries such as China, India and Russia have introduced bans or regulations on Telegram, meaning Germany is not alone in seeking potential regulations on the service.

Governments have justified their decisions to block or ban the app by pointing to criminal and problem content being spread on the platform.