Russia Bans Telegram After Company Refuses to Surrender Encryption Keys

Alexandr Ryumin  TASS

"This information was sent to providers on Monday", Russia's communications watchdog said in a statement.

Telegram has more than nine million users in Russian Federation alone, and an estimated 200 million users worldwide. Roskomnadzor had prayed the court to block Telegram from operating in Russian Federation, and that the ban should be immediate.

In July 2017, the FSB demanded that Telegram provide the keys to decrypt user messages citing its own administrative order, which established the procedure for providing the encryption keys.

Some Russian internet providers began blocking Telegram on Monday afternoon.

Regardless of the ban, Durov announced on Tass (Translated from Russian) that Telegram would still be able to notify its Russian users about the situation.

Telegram was set up by a Russian entrepreneur who has come into conflict with the authorities.

It has been called the "app of choice for many Isis, pro-Isis and other jihadi and terrorist elements" by Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which tracks terrorists' online communications, due to the strong level of encryption it deploys.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said in response to the ruling that the company would endeavor to bypass the ban, using in-app methods to evade the block, which could go into effect at any time.

Writing on Vkontakte, the social media platform Durov founded that is now under state control, he said the decision harms Russia's national security as users will switch to WhatsApp and Facebook which are "controlled from the USA".

In 2017 Presidential election campaign, the incumbent president Emmanuel Macron used Russian Federation based Telegram app that had been used by the government higher officials for communicating to each other. The app is also widely used by the Russian authorities, Reuters news agency reports. Even the President himself was fond of Telegram app but due to security concerns at the start of 2018, the French Security firm Thales blocked the use of Telegram or WhatsApp.

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