Russian Court Bans Telegram Application Later Hearing

Telegram messenger logo on a tablet screen

A Moscow court ruled to block access to Telegram in Russian Federation after it refused to give security services access to users' secret messages in an ongoing legal battle.

Roskomnadzor had threatened to ban the app in June past year for failing to join its official register, which requires companies to provide the FSB with information on user interactions.

This all started when KGB successor Federal Security Service (FSB) demanded access to Telegram's decryption keys a year ago.

According to the New York Times, there was no immediate comment from the founder of Telegram Pavel Durov, who also came up with the Russian social network Vkontakte and had fled the country in 2014, after he lost control of Vkontakte. Russia's Foreign Ministry has announced that it's moving to the Viber messaging app, the NYT reported, citing the Interfax news agency.

In December 2017, a lawsuit was filed by Telegram with Russian Supreme Court, stating that FSB's order was invalid.

Last year, Russian Federation threatened to ban Telegram, after claiming the encrypted messaging app was used in a terror plot that left 16 people dead.

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Telegram is widely used across Russian Federation and other former Soviet states, and in the Middle East. He claimed on Twitter that the threats to block Telegram will not bear a fruit. The company said that FSB doesn't have a ground to issue such an order, because it goes against the law demanding a court judgment for access to users messages. According to a blog post attributed to Telegram founder Pavel Durov, the app has built-in workarounds for such bans.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the ban could be overturned if Telegram would simply comply with the law.

"The irony is that those in the Kremlin and government often use the service to communicate with journalists", a British journalist based in Russian Federation told i. It will be hard for the government to hard press Telegram since the company has the "luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales", Durov said on his Telegram channel.

As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government.

However, Telegram is also popular among human rights activists for the same reason, as it allows them to communicate relatively securely to a large group of people.

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