Messaging app Telegram warned Tuesday that “democracy is under attack in Brazil,” the latest salvo by tech companies to oppose a bill seeking to curb disinformation online.
“Brazil is about to pass a law that will end free speech,” the company said in a message sent to users on Bill 2630, which passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the lower house of Congress. .
It claimed the bill “gives the power of censorship to the government without prior judicial oversight,” calling it “one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation ever conceived in Brazil.”
Telegram’s statement came a week after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government accused Google of “fraudulent and abusive propaganda” against the bill.
The US tech giant displayed a prominent message on its Brazilian homepage warning that the legislation could “damage your internet.”
Google removed the message on the same day the National Consumer Protection Bureau ordered it to also give space to opposing views or face a fine of one million reai ($200,000) per hour.
Telegram is also facing legal problems in Brazil.
Last month, a court ordered the app to be suspended for refusing to provide authorities with requested data on neo-Nazi groups allegedly promoting school violence through the platform.
The decision was overturned on appeal two days later.
In March 2022, a Supreme Court judge threatened to block Telegram in Brazil for refusing to respect court orders, in particular the suspension of the account of blogger Allan dos Santos, a prominent supporter of far-right right-wing former president Jair Bolsonaro who is being investigated for spreading disinformation.
Dubbed the “fake news bill” by the media and the “censorship bill” by opponents, the Brazilian law was introduced three years ago.
It came to prominence after Bolsonaro supporters rioted in Brasilia on January 8, allegedly prompted by disinformation on social media claiming that their candidate’s 2022 election loss to Lula was a fraud.