Brazil considers banning Telegram VPN over concerns about national security

Brazil considers banning Telegram VPN over concerns about national security

The Supreme Federal Court in Brazil is planning to ban the use of VPN services to bypass potential Telegram blocks. Minister Alexandre de Moraes’ decision comes after the app criticized the state of democracy in Brazil, warning users against the so-called fake news law. The move is especially worrying as Brazilian authorities are notorious for blocking Telegram, with a temporary ban in April causing a spike in Telegram VPN interest across the region.

Moraes’ provision does not explicitly mention the use of virtual private networks or proxy software, but it is clear that “technological subterfuges” refer to these security tools that spoof users’ IP addresses to bypass geo-restrictions on online content. Those found guilty of using a VPN or other circumvention tools to access Telegram will face a fine of approximately $20,000 per hour.

The plans to criminalize the use of VPN services come as the Brazilian Supreme Court has accused Telegram of spreading disinformation about its Bill 2630, also known as the Fake News Bill or Censorship Bill. Telegram sent a message to all its users on May 9, branding the law as “one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever considered in Brazil” capable of “ending free speech.”

Moraes has requested Telegram to delete the message and publish a retraction for spreading disinformation, warning that noncompliance will result in a fine of BRL 500 thousand per hour (over $100,000). This is not the first time that Telegram has encountered Brazil’s online censorship, as the social media platform was banned in April for failing to hand over data from neo-Nazi chats and was only restored three days later.

The potential ban on VPNs could have significant implications for individuals and legal entities using them to access censored sites and apps. The move could be seen as a way for the Brazilian government to suppress free speech and could lead to further scrutiny of the country’s online censorship policies.

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