Russian court blocks popular messaging app in privacy row

Russian court blocks popular messaging app in privacy row

A district court in Moscow has ordered access to popular internet messenger Telegram to be blocked after the company repeatedly refused to hand over encryption keys to its messages to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russia will block the Telegram messaging app starting immediately, after a court in Moscow approved a request from the Russian media regulator.

Roskomnadzor announced earlier that it had filed a lawsuit demanding Telegram be blocked after it failed to provide encryption keys to security services before the deadline. He added that FSB's demand that his client must provide access to private conversations of users is not only unconstitutional but baseless and can not be fulfilled technically and legally.

On April 6, Roskomnadzor filed the lawsuit on the blocking of Telegram in Russian Federation.

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Pavel Durov said that users should not remove Telegram as the functioning of this application will be carried out through built-in methods to bypass the lock.

"There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation", he said. In Russia, government officials, journalists and members of the opposition use Telegram, according to Reuters. As such, the company is required to provide encryption keys to the Federal Security Services so as to let them read the correspondence of suspected terrorists. Mr Durov, who was forced to sell his remaining stake in Russia's largest social network, VK, to a Kremlin-friendly billionaire in 2014, has said Telegram can't be bought - at any price. Telegram's lawyer told the newspaper that the messaging service plans to do so.

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.

If Russia forces local ISPs to block Telegram, users may need to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to fully avoid the ban. "Governments do not have a right to demand indiscriminate access to individuals' private communications, and to punish Telegram for protecting their users' data also shows a shocking disregard for the extent to which many Russians rely on Telegram to communicate".

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