Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Industry | By Kenny Hampton

Telegram hit with block in Russian Federation over encryption

Telegram hit with block in Russian Federation over encryption

A Russian court has ordered that access to the Telegram messaging service should be blocked in the country. The court has made this decision after the company refused to hand over encryption keys used to scramble messages.

In early April, the Presidential Council for Human Rights called Roskomnadzor to refrain from blocking Telegram messenger in Russian Federation and asked FSB to find other ways of legal access to the messages of users endangering the national security. The St Petersberg suicide bomber allegedly used the service to communicate with his accomplices.

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

In March, Roskomnadzor notified Telegram that it must comply with the FSB request to provide the FSB "with the information necessary to decode received, transmitted, delivered and (or) processed electronic messages".

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, whose workforce makes use of Telegram to rearrange briefings for reporters, said it is not the Kremlin's place to the touch upon courtroom rulings.

Telegram, a telecommunications app has become very popular especially in the cryptocurrency world. "Well, soon. I won't say when I will attack", said Zharov answering a question on when the watchdog would start restricting access to Telegram.

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But it remains to be seen whether the company will agree to any concessions to get the Russian block removed.

Telegram had missed a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys.

Durov wrote on Telegram that "privacy is not for sale", adding that "at Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales". A person in the Russian government told Reuters that they plan to use a VPN app for accessing the service post this order.

FSB, which is the main security agency in Russia has said that Telegram is the messenger of choice for Russian-based global terrorist organizations. It recently celebrated 200 million users, and is presently raising billions in what is being called the biggest initial coin offering so far.

Mind you, it's not clear whether Russian Federation actually can stop Telegram, even if it's technically banned.

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