Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Russian telecom watchdog says Telegram will be banned soon

Court orders to block Telegram- immediately Court orders to block Telegram- immediately
| 15 April, 2018, 01:30

In 2016, the Kremlin supported a sweeping anti-terrorism law that required authorities to be given backdoor access to encrypted applications. The FSB has said it needs access to some messages for security reasons, including countering terrorist activity. However, Telegram refused to comply with the demands for reasons of user privacy. Naturally, the authorities didn't take much time to take legal steps against the company. Additionally, company executives said that Telegram was technically unable to fulfill the requirement.

The court turned down the request, and swiftly ordered Telegram's blocking.

Roskomnadzor had threatened to ban the app in June previous year for failing to join its official register, which requires companies to provide the FSB with information on user interactions. Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov wouldn't tell TASS when or how Russian Federation would block Telegram, only that it would be soon.

The company was given a 4 April deadline to hand over the information, but said that the service was built in such a way that they didn't have access to customers' encryption keys anyway.

"The ban on access to information will be in force until the FSB's demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages", said Judge Yulia Smolina, according to the official Russian news organization TASS.


Telegram lawyers did not attend the preliminary consultations on Thursday or the Friday hearings.

Telegram's lawyer, Pavel Chikov, said the official attempt to stop the app being used in Russian Federation was "groundless". The hearing lasted 18 minutes and was boycotted by Telegram's lawyers in protest of the hurried process. VPN is an acronym for a virtual private network; such networks can allow people to bypass internet restrictions imposed by authorities.

In a tweet responding to the news, founder Pavel Durov wrote: "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed".

Telegram is one of the fastest growing social messaging platforms in the world and it recently surpassed 200 million monthly active users. Mr Durov in June registered the service with the state communications watchdog after it was threatened with a ban over allegations that terrorists used it to plot a suicide-bomb attack.

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