Court rules to block Telegram messaging app in Russian Federation

Two men pose with smartphones in front of a screen showing the Telegram logos

In December, Telegram Messenger LLP filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Russian Federation seeking to cancel the Federal Security Service's (FSB) decree establishing the procedure for provision of information on decoding of user data.

Earlier, Tagansky court in Moscow satisfied the suit of Roskomnadzor and ruled to block Telegram messenger on the entire territory of the Russian Federation.

In summer 2017, the FSB's representatives said members of worldwide terrorist organizations in Russian Federation actively used the Telegram messenger, which enables terrorists to have chats with a high level of encrypted information. It said the Federal Security Service (FSB) needed decryption keys that would let it peek into the communications of the chat app's 200 million users.

Russia's top network providers, Megafon and MTS, declined to comment on the ban.

Pavel Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram, said the court decision was warning to global technology firms of the dangers of operating in Russian Federation.

The court turned down the request, and swiftly ordered Telegram's blocking. The possibility of using the service over VPN will still remain.

Durov, who in 2014 sold his VK stake to Ivan Tavrin, former CEO of the telcom Megafon, which is majority-owned by Putin ally and oligarch Alisher Usmanov, has said that efforts to obtain access to messages would be hopeless.

Alexei Venediktov, the well-connected head of Russia's popular Echo of Moscow radio station, said the decision to block Telegram was an attempt by Russia's law enforcement to stop technological progress rather than adapt to it. The ruling follows months of battles between Telegram and Roskomnadzor, Russia's telecommunications watchdog.

He urged Telegram users not to delete or reinstall the application if they experience connectivity issues.

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