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.
Russian news agency Tass reports that the encrypted messaging service will be “blocked immediately” following the ruling and notes that the ban will be in place until Telegram provides decryption keys to the FSB.
The order arrives just a week after Russia’s state communication watchdog filed a lawsuit to limit access to the messaging app due to its owners refusing to hand over message transcripts to Russian state security. And that happened not long after Telegram lost an appeal in March after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that it must continue providing user data to the country’s security services, the FSB, so that it can prevent terrorist attacks.
Over the past few years, the Putin administration has been trying to monitor electronic communications in a bid to fight terrorism and in 2016, it implemented a new law calling on firms to decrypt user data.
Telegram was given a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys but that deadline has now passed and the app stuck to its guns.
Why? Because doing so would go against the whole premise of the app, which is used by over 200 million people, mostly because of its ability to allow communication via encrypted messages that can’t read by third parties, including authorities.
The app’s makers also claim that the country’s demands violate the Russian Constitution which entitles citizens to privacy of correspondence.
The Telegram app is exceptionally popular in Russia, used not only by everyday people but also government agencies. Apparently, the Kremlin even uses Telegram to coordinate timings of regular conference calls with Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
The messaging app’s founder, Pavel Durov, has said on numerous occasions already that the company would not hand over encryption keys to Russian authorities as it does not share confidential user data with anyone. µ
Source : Inquirer