The German government said banning Telegram is not off the table and that the popular messaging service has been connected with conservative groups and groups opposing Covid restrictions.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that Telegram could be banned if it continues being used by groups opposing Covid measures to organize.
“We cannot rule this out,” she told Die Zeit weekly. “A shutdown would be grave and clearly a last resort. All other options must be exhausted first.”
Faeser said that Germany was discussing with other European Union Members how to regulate Telegram. “As a German nation-state, we cannot do it alone.”
Related: Telegram founder calls for resistance against China and Iran’s censorship
Telegram is a messaging app with social media-like features. Through groups and channels with an unlimited number of members and subscribers, messages, news, and other information can be shared among like-minded people.
The private messages can be protected from snooping through end-to-end-encryption, although this is not the default.
Anti-lockdown supporters and other groups can also easily organize through Telegram, away from the snooping eye of law enforcement.
If they ban it, Germany will join the small list of countries that have banned or regulated Telegram, including India, Russia, and China.
Yet, Telegram has been committed to its anti-censorship stance and has done a good job of avoiding bans. Telegram has servers all around the world.
“Today Telegram is in Dubai, tomorrow maybe in the Cayman Islands,” Faeser said in an interview with Zeit.
When the Russian government blocked Telegram in 2018, the developers used sophisticated measures to keep access going – a move that was embarrassing for the Russian authorities.