Russian court orders ban on Telegram app

Sunday, 15 Apr, 2018

Russian news service TASS quoted Judge Smolina as saying, "The ban on access to information will be in force until the FSB's demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages".

Telegram is the second global network to be blocked in Russia after LinkedIn was banned in 2016 for failing to comply with a law that requires companies holding Russian citizens' data to store it on servers on Russian soil.

Roskomnadzor claimed that Telegram was not entirely honest in these statements, as some unnamed experts said it is still possible to give the security services some keys allowing secret messages to be decoded. Despite today's ban, Durov once again said that Telegram has no plans to turn over its keys to the Russian government.

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

Telegram, which has more than 200 million users worldwide, is especially popular with Russia's elite.

"There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation", he said.

However, he said on his page in the VK social network that he could not guarantee users would retain access to Telegram without using virtual private networks (VPNs). Roskomnadzor said on its website it will start the procedure to block Telegram once it receives a written ruling from the court. A Russian native, Durov now is based in Dubai. Fewer researchers have a chance to test a new, custom-made protocol like Telegram's, which is only used in one app-though students at MIT have already found flaws (pdf) in Telegram's MTProto.

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". So popular is the app in Russian Federation that some highly placed government officials including the press officer to President Vladimir V. Putin is reported to be among its users.

Telegram is especially popular among political activists of all stripes, and is also used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists. The company filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the fine, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov told RAPSI on March 22.