Moscow court rules to block messaging app Telegram in Russian Federation

Alexander Scherbak  TASS

This morning, Moscow's Tagansky District Court issued a ruling to block access to Telegram, a popular messaging service with close to ten million users in Russian Federation, and close to 200,000 worldwide, for failure to hand encryption keys over to Russia's security services.

A RUSSIAN COURT has ordered that access to Telegram is blocked in the country in a move that could cause widespread disruption to communications for millions of users.

The court pointed out that Telegram would remain blocked in Russia until it provides encryption keys to the Russian authorities. "No documents have been provided to us, the positions of the FSB [Russia's Federal Security Service] and Roskomnadzor [Russia's media watchdog] haven't been clarified", the lawyer said, adding that "Telegram has not received anything".

"At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales".

Telegram then filed a lawsuit with the Russian Supreme Court in an attempt to declare the FSB order and resulting fine invalid, which was overturned on the 20th of March this year.

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Official request to start blocking messaging app granted but founder pledges to use built-in systems to overcome ban.

The FSB first asked the app to provide information to decode messages sent by six telephone numbers linked to members of terrorist organisations in Russian Federation, including the suicide bomber behind the terror attack on St Petersburg's metro in April 2017, in which 15 people died.

Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, argues that Russia's FSB intelligence service is violating consumer rights, while authorities say the app has been used by violent extremists.

He also urged Telegram users not to uninstall the app due to connection issues and recommended that those who don't have the app, download it from the App Store or Google Play Store before the ban. "But unfortunately this consensus was not reached".

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).

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