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Russian Federation orders immediate block of Telegram messaging app

15 April 2018

"The court ruled to satisfy the demand of Rosomnadzor", judge Yulia Smolina said.

The company claims it doesn't have those keys because it uses end-to-end encryption, where users - not Telegram - have the keys to their own secret messages.

The ban comes after a protracted dispute between Telegram and Russian authorities, who insist they need access to the encryption keys to investigate serious crimes, including terrorist attacks.

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Telegram will be using built-in methods to bypass the block, Mr Durov told Russian users on his page on the VK.com social network after the ruling. Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov wouldn't tell TASS when or how Russian Federation would block Telegram, only that it would be soon. FSB demanded those keys because it wanted to read user messages as part of its anti-terror measures.

After Friday's ruling, Alexander Zharov, the head of Roskomnadzor, said he would not say the "exact time when the block on Telegram will begin", adding that it would be "soon". Since Telegram's founder, Pavel Durov, has recently stated that "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed", it looks like Telegram Messenger users based in Russian Federation should find another similar service to use.

Telegram is widely used across Russian Federation and other former Soviet states, and in the Middle East. Telegram has been found guilty of failure to store and (or) furnish information on users and their messages to law enforcement agencies.

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Pavel Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram, said the court decision is an example of how hard is it for a global technology firm to operate in Russian Federation. In order to comply, Telegram would have to make users' conversations readable by the government. "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed", Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said after the app was ordered blocked. A Russian native, Durov now is based in Dubai.

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.

As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government. Last summer the Indonesian government also used blocks to wring content-related concessions out of Telegram.

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Russian Federation orders immediate block of Telegram messaging app