Telegram temporary blocked in France
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The 13th of May, Telegram, a popular messaging application, got blocked by the French Government under the child abuse and terrorism fighting enforcement laws. Following their procedure, the Police requested the French ISP to block some URLs tagged as “child porn” as the law requires it. The procedure is : the Police asks the hosting provider to remove the contents. If the hosting does not comply under a legal delay, the URL is blocked. According to the French Police, Telegram has not removed all of the targeted content, so they escalated the procedure. Which conducted to block “t.me”, the shorten links domain used to redirect users to profiles and channels. After discovering the mistake, the blocking order has been removed.
The story is available at Le Monde and the French expert Stéphane Bortmeyer wrote a comprehensive analysis of the blocking. Both links are in French, please note that Le Monde is behind a cookie wall.
This legal procedure is the result of a 2014 law regarding child porn and terrorist promotion contents, giving the Police the possibility to block these contents without asking to a Judge if the provider does not remove the contents after a 24 hours delay following the notification. An administrative procedure to summarize. Recently, the ministre délégué auprès du Ministère de l’Economie pour le Numérique (the Minister in charge of the Digital topics under the Economy Ministry) announced a law project to extend this device to pornographic contents that are unable to comply with the age verification requirement (a complex case regarding privacy).
But, this story reminds how the blocking can be dangerous and overkill if not correctly mastered and controlled. At my knowledge, Telegram is not an illegal service in France (I don’t use it so I can’t tell what’s going on it). However, just like any other online service, it can be used for illegal activities. Blocking the entire service was a big mistake which demonstrates there is no control behind the blocking notification.
To summarize, a big fail which does not bode well for the scope extensions of this device.