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Court lifts block on Telegram message service in Spain

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A block on the Telegram short message service in Spain has been lifted, the national court in Madrid announced on Monday.

Judge Santiago Pedraz had provisionally lifted his blocking order first imposed on Friday, the announcement said. The judge was awaiting a report on Telegram that he had called for from the general commissioner for messaging services, it added.

The block was imposed following complaints submitted by several media companies against Telegram for infringement of rules on the protection of copyright.

Telegram could nevertheless still be accessed from Spain up until Monday. Consumer protection bodies in Spain, where Telegram has several million users, had criticized the block as disproportionate.

Country blocks can in any case be circumvented relatively easily by means of virtual private networks (VPNs).

Pedraz ordered the block after he had made repeated requests for administrative assistance from the authorities of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, where Telegram is registered, to no avail.

The authorities there had not cooperated in clarifying the identity of the owners of Telegram accounts from which copyrighted content had been illegally distributed, the Spanish court found.

The El País daily reported that Telegram regularly refused to provide information to the Spanish authorities.

As the service protected the identity of its users to a greater extent than for example its larger competitor, WhatsApp, it is preferred by regime critics in dictatorships. But for this reason, Telegram also carries channels with criminal or extremist content.

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