Russian Federation to Restrict Access to Telegram

Otis Hoffman
April 15, 2018

The Moscow court ruled in favor of the Russian communications watchdog, which had demanded that Telegram be blocked in Russia until it hands over the keys to its encryption.

"The court has ruled to refuse the request of the Telegram party and look into the case without the participation of Telegram representatives", Interfax quotes Tagansky District Court Judge Yulia Smolina.

Pavel Durov, founder of the Telegram, had repeatedly said his company would not hand over encryption keys to Russian authorities as it does not share confidential user data with anyone.

Telegram's service has faced temporary blocks in Iran - over content being spread on the platform that the regime dislikes.

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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.

Russian Federation has banned popular messaging app Telegram in the country due to the refusal of the firm's officials to hand over their encryption keys.

The Kremlin uses Telegram to coordinate timings of regular conference calls with Vladimir Putin's spokesman, while many government officials use the messenger to communicate with media. "Telegram will use built-in methods to bypass blocking, which do not require action from users, although 100% accessibility of the service without VPN is not guaranteed", he wrote.

Dmitri S. Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, stressed, "There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation".

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The court decision on Telegram is meant to make one of the last holdouts among communications companies bow to Putin's efforts to track electronic messaging.

The Guardain newspaper compared the ban to "Chinese-style" internet censorship and also said that there is no clarity as of now on how Russian Federation would block the app technically.

Third-party VPN/Proxy-might be overloaded, which is likely to result in slow operation during the first hours after the block. The company filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the fine, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov told RAPSI on March 22.

Durov, the Telegram founder, posted about the ruling on his VKontakte page, Russia's largest social network.

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