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Telegram Faces EU Investigation about Compliance with Digital Services Act

Telegram claims to have approximately 41 million users in Europe, but local regulators suspect the actual figure may be higher.


The European Union is scrutinizing messaging app Telegram over suspicions that it may have underreported its user base within the bloc. According to sources cited by Bloomberg, EU officials are currently in discussions with Telegram to verify the accuracy of its reported user numbers. Telegram has claimed to have around 41 million users in Europe, but local regulators believe the actual figure could be higher.

Regulatory Context and Implications

The investigation holds particular importance due to the EU Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes stricter regulations on platforms with 45 million or more users in the EU, classifying them as very large online platforms (VLOPs). These platforms are subject to enhanced responsibilities for the content they host. Telegram's now-defunct webpage, which can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine, indicated that the platform had an estimated average of 41 million monthly active EU users as of February 2024. The page also suggested that the number might be even lower when considering that only some of Telegram's features qualify as “online platforms” under the DSA.

Political Influence and Platform Usage

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has reportedly influenced the EU's decision to investigate Telegram. Kallas has argued that Telegram should be classified as a VLOP, similar to other major platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), and should adhere to the same regulatory standards. Telegram has gained popularity among Russian accounts disseminating information and disinformation about the Russo-Ukrainian War. Notably, the platform was used by the Wagner Group, with its late leader Yevgeny Prigozhin announcing his rebellion against the Russian government on Telegram.

Potential Outcomes and Consequences

If Telegram is found to have more than 45 million EU users, it would need to comply with the DSA's stringent rules. Non-compliance could lead to significant penalties, including fines up to 6 percent of the platform's revenue or even a ban from operating in the EU. The DSA has already been used to investigate other major platforms like Meta and TikTok, particularly concerning child safety. X was the first platform to be scrutinized under the DSA for hosting disinformation and other illegal content.

The URL for Telegram's now-defunct page on the DSA redirects to the platform's regular terms of service, which do not mention the DSA. It remains unclear why the page was removed, although it may be related to the ongoing probe. The European Union is in discussions with Telegram regarding the number of users within the bloc and how to categorize the platform. Telegram, a messaging service, is under scrutiny for potentially being a major online platform under the EU's new content moderation law. This comes as the platform is reportedly being used to spread Russian disinformation. Regulators are assessing whether Telegram meets the criteria to be classified under the stringent new regulations aimed at controlling illegal and harmful content online.

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a MasterĀ“s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.

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