Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Russian Federation orders immediate block of Telegram messaging app

Russian Federation orders immediate block of Telegram messaging app

The Russian government has started to block messaging app Telegram, according to reports from the local news agency Tass. Moscow's Tagansky court satisfied the demand of Russia's telecommunications watchdog and blocked access to the Telegram messenger in Russian Federation over its failure to furnish keys to the Federal Security Service to decrypt user messages, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

The Supreme Court last month threw out an appeal by Telegram against the requirement to provide the data. Telegram, which was founded by Russian tech luminary Pavel Durov but operates from outside the country, refused to do so. In September, law enforcement authorities drew up administrative protocols against Telegram because of law violation, as Durov failed to reply for the request.

In October 2017, a Moscow court imposed an 800,000 ruble ($13,000 at the current exchange rate) fine on Telegram over its refusal to meet the FSB's demand. The messenger insists that it is technically impossible to transfer encryption keys. But Telegram has publicly declined to hand the information over. The ruling has become effective.

Earlier on Friday, Moscow's Tagansky District Court ruled to block access to Telegram in Russian Federation over its failure to provide decryption keys for messages to the Federal Security Service.

Roskomnadzor warned Telegram on 20 March that it had 15 days to comply. The government in Russian Federation has been asking Telegram to create a backdoor so that it can monitor messages being shared on the platform.

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. According to the company, the security agency had no powers to issue such an order as it runs counter to the law demanding a court judgement for an access to user messages.

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