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Russian watchdog considers U-turn on Telegram ban

RUSSIA’S MEDIA WATCHDOG has said it will consider unblocking Telegram in the country in an unexpected U-turn.

Last year, a court in Russia ordered messaging app Telegram to provide decryption keys that would allow law enforcement to read messages that suspected criminals sent. The company refused to comply, claiming that the way the service is built means it’s unable to access them. 

Paul Durov, CEO and founder of Telegram, also argued that complying with the order would violate the Russian Constitution which entitles citizens to privacy of correspondence.

Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, was subsequently authorised to block the service in Russia until it changes its policy.

On Tuesday, the watchdog said it would consider lifting the ban,… if Telegram also changes its mind and complies with the court order, RT reports.

Telegram, unsurprisingly, doesn’t appear willing to bend to the watchdog’s orders. A lawyer representing the company told RT that Telegram “never denied that the authorities have a right and even an obligation to fight terrorism. On the contrary, we suggested the only civilized way to do it – a court order in exchange for a disclosure.

“A disclosure not of the content of the messages even, but only of an IP address or a telephone number. The balance must be found between national security and privacy.”

Durov reiterated this stance in a post to his own Telegram channel. He noted that the company had updated its privacy policy to comply with GDPR to include a new section that reads: “If Telegram receives a court order that confirms you’re a terror suspect, we may disclose your IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities. So far, this has never happened. When it does, we will include it in a semiannual transparency report.”

However, Durov said that despite this new rule change, Russia still wouldn’t unblock Telegram because it is after access to all messages.

“Telegram in Russia is outlawed; Every day hundreds of IP addresses are blocked in attempts to stop access to the service. In this regard, we do not consider any calls from Russian services, and our privacy policy does not concern the situation in Russia. Therefore, we continue our resistance,” he said. µ

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Source : Inquirer

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