Russia Bans Telegram After Encryption Dispute

Investigators in protective clothing remove a van from an address in Winterslow Wiltshire as part of their investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England

Today, Judge Yulia Smolina said, "The court ruled to satisfy the demand of Roskomnadzor".

The Virgin Islands-registered company has over 9.5 million users in Russian Federation, according to researcher Mediascope.

The media regulator requested Telegram to provide it with encryption keys that are used to scramble messages. Because of this, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor requested the court to ban the app outright. In order to let someone monitor encrypted conversations, Telegram would have to remove end-to-end encryption from the service, which would then make the app just like any other unsecured messaging app available.

In 2016, Russian Federation put severe anti-terrorism laws in place that ordered messaging services, like Telegram, to cooperate with officials and grant them access to their message decryption.

Telegram was still available late Friday afternoon in Russian Federation, several hours after the court ruling.




Telegram was invented by the Russian internet entrepreneur Pavel Durov, who frequently clashed with the security services over his social network VKontakte and left Russia in 2014.

Certain implementations of Telegram, such as the mobile app, are more hard to cut off than others. It claims that "Telegram is more secure than mass market messengers like WhatsApp and Line". One of the laws required that messaging services to provide the authorities with means to decrypt user correspondence. The company said that FSB doesn't have a ground to issue such an order, because it goes against the law demanding a court judgment for access to users messages.

Telegram's lawyer has dubbed the attempt to block the app "groundless", adding: "The FSB's requirements to provide access to private conversations of users are unconstitutional, baseless, which can not be fulfilled technically and legally". The company is insulated from the power that local governments typically have over IT companies because it has the "luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales", Mr Durov said in a message posted on his Telegram channel.

Judging by Durov's response, it appears as though Russians will lose their ability to access Telegram normally at least until the government decides to lift the ban. Providers will block the app starting from April 16.

However, Telegram is also popular among human rights activists for the same reason, as it allows them to communicate relatively securely to a large group of people.

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