Court Rules to Block Access to Telegram Messaging Service in Russian Federation

Sergio Conner
April 16, 2018

The announcement comes days after a Moscow district court authorized Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor to immediately block Telegram in Russia, without waiting for an appeal to be considered.

The Russian telecom watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement that it has sent internet and mobile operators a notification about blocking access to Telegram inside Russia.

The FSB asked Telegram to provide the encryption key for decoding messages but it refused, saying users' personal data is protected. Messenger's refusal to hand over its encryption keys to the FSB provoked the trial in the first place.

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After it developed its own blockchain platform which was unveiled on April 13, Telegram has become the main dependable encrypted messenger for the Russian cryptocurrency industry. Even if Durov changes Telegram's software to try to bypass Russia's block, "he will realize that most people just don't want to bother", Kremlin internet adviser German Klimenko said on Facebook. At any given moment, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets and thus force these companies to do unusual things (remember how previous year Apple moved iCloud servers to China).

Durov who fled the country in 2014 said that the company has "the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales". Writing on Vkontakte, the social media platform he founded that is now under state control, Durov said the decision harms Russia's national security as users will switch to WhatsApp and Facebook which are "controlled from the U.S.". "The issue of correspondents' right to privacy is on the agenda now", Chikov wrote on his Telegram channel. Unfortunately it seems that it is this level of security and privacy that has resulted in the app getting banned in Russian Federation. Other countries to have blocked the app or its services includes Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bahrain.

Russia's state telecommunications regulator said on Monday that it had begun blocking access to messenger service Telegram, implementing a decision by a Russian court from last week. "We will inform you on the developing situation", the messaging app notified its Russian users.

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