Russian Federation wants Google and Apple to ban Telegram from their app stores

Alexander Scherbak  TASS

The court ruled to restrict access to Telegram immediately before the service performs the obligations to transfer encryption keys to the FSB.

RUSSIA'S STATE TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATOR has asked Apple and Google to yank Telegram from their respective app stores.

Russian Internet providers began to block access to Telegram on Monday following a court decision last week ruling to block the app over its refusal to provide the security services with keys to decrypt private conversations.

Telegram, which was founded by a Russian entrepreneur, has repeatedly refused requests to give the FSB access to its users' encrypted messages. Telegram said last month its total audience globally surpassed 200 million users, driven by attention for the world's largest initial coin offering. And according to multiple sources within Russia, ISPs there are now blocking large chunks of IP addresses associated with cloud services from Amazon and Google.

"They've decided the political costs of blocking Telegram and millions and millions of IP addresses used by Amazon and Google are not that high", Soldatov said.

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In Moscow, the Telegram app was still functioning as normal by mid-afternoon on Monday, but the company's website had been blocked by two of Russia's biggest service providers, MTS (MBT.N)(MTSS.MM) and Megafon (MFON.MM).

A clumsy attempt by the Russian authorities to block Telegram has taken many unrelated websites and apps offline - while so far the instant messaging service has continued operating. Durov, who left Russian Federation in 2014, refused to give the authorities access.

Despite Russia's hard-line crackdown on Telegram, some users are still finding a way around the ban by using a VPN.

Internet businesses in Russian Federation were also hit inadvertently by Roskomnadzor's move. The data law in question required the chat app to list its services in Roskomnadzor's register and provide more information about its services.

In 2017, Telegram and Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor seemingly found a common ground created to see the former continue to offer its services unhindered.

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