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Vera Jourova

EU Accuses Telegram of Underreporting User Numbers to Avoid Regulation

Moscow, June 27, 2024, The Europe Today: Vera Jourova, the Vice-President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, has accused Telegram of underreporting its user numbers to evade EU regulatory scrutiny. Jourova also alleged that Moscow uses the platform to disseminate “disinformation” among Russian-speaking residents in the EU, particularly in the Baltic nations, Poland, and Bulgaria.

“I don’t trust Telegram, I don’t think they only have 42 million users,” Jourova stated in an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday. She added that the European Commission believes Telegram’s user base exceeds 45 million people, the threshold for regulatory control under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA).

The commission is considering whether to launch an investigation into the platform, Jourova revealed. Last month, Bloomberg reported that EU lawmakers were contemplating classifying Telegram as a “very large online platform,” which would subject it to stricter regulatory oversight.

As of February 2024, Telegram had an estimated average of 41 million monthly active EU users over the preceding six months, below the DSA threshold. The DSA, effective since February, mandates that platforms exceeding 45 million users adhere to more stringent obligations and requires companies outside the EU to have legal representation within a member state.

The DSA grants EU regulators the authority to fine platforms up to 6% of their global annual turnover for violations and the right to ban repeat offenders from operating within the bloc.

Telegram, founded by Russian-born entrepreneur Pavel Durov, has maintained a stance on respecting user privacy and freedom of expression. In an interview with American journalist Tucker Carlson earlier this year, Durov asserted that he had refused requests from Washington to share user data or to install surveillance “backdoors” into the platform.

Brussels has already initiated investigations into other major platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and Meta (the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp), over alleged breaches of EU regulations related to risk management, content moderation, advertising transparency, and data access for researchers.

The EU’s scrutiny of Telegram underscores the increasing regulatory pressures faced by social media platforms as the bloc aims to enforce stricter digital governance.