Telegram chat app blocked in Russia

Telegram

A Russian court has ordered an immediate ban on Telegram, the popular app that allows its users to send encrypted messages, after it refused to turn over decryption keys to Russian state security services. The ban will come into force immediately, the Tass Russian news agency reports, and will remain in place until Telegram gives the FSB access to encryption keys.

Allaying the fears of Telegram and its users, the FSB said obtaining the encryption keys does not violate users' privacy because the keys themselves are not regarded as information of restricted access.

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, one of the most popular messaging app in Russian Federation, refused to comply with the demand, citing privacy laws. 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.

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In a statement, he said: "The FSB's requirements to provide access to private conversations of users are unconstitutional, baseless, which can not be fulfilled technically and legally".

In response, Telegram's lawyers said that they would file an appeal at the Moscow City Court after a careful study of the ruling.

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.

Given how widely Telegram is used, a suspension of service is bound to affect users in the country.

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Telegram has been utilized by ISIS and its supporters, whatever the company claiming to have closed down many pro-ISIS channels.

Similarly, despite the Ukrainian government blocking Durov's well-known social network VKontakte in May 2017, users continue to be able to use it via mobile app.

Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov has repeatedly condemned Russia's efforts to compromise the app's security and privacy features, and he said last month that the court's threats "won't bear fruit".

"At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales", Durov, a Russian who fled the country in 2014, wrote.

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As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government. In Russia, government officials, journalists and members of the opposition use Telegram, according to Reuters.

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