Telegram banned in Russian Federation for refusing to hand over encryption keys

15 April, 2018, 00:55 | Author: Juana Mckenzie
  • Alexander Scherbak  TASS

The encrypted messaging app Telegram must immediately be blocked in Russian Federation, a Moscow court ruled Friday due to Telegram's refusal to hand over the keys to its users' conversations.

The company was given a 4 April deadline to hand over the information, but said that the service was built in such a way that they didn't have access to customers' encryption keys anyway.

The conflict began when Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) announced it wanted access to Telegram's user data by way of encryption key sharing.

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Telegram officials have long said their app is developed in a way that makes it impossible to provide authorities with a universal key that decrypts end-user messages.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications and technology watchdog, had demanded that the app be blocked.

On his Vkontakte page, Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that Telegram would use the built-in methods of bypassing the blocking and recommended not to delete or reinstall the app if there were problems with the connection.

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On his page in the VK social network yesterday, Mr Durov said the app will use built-in systems to circumnavigate the ban in Russian Federation.

"Many Telegram users have already adopted different messengers, and those who want to stay with this product know a lot of ways to get around the ban and continue using the services they are used to", Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. However, Telegram refused to comply with the demands for reasons of user privacy. Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, has confirmed that his company will not create a backchannel for government authorities to snoop on user messages. "No documents have been provided to us, the positions of the FSB [Russia's Federal Security Service] and Roskomnadzor [Russia's media watchdog] haven't been clarified", the lawyer said, adding that "Telegram has not received anything".

As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government. The Iranian government took a similar step on New Year's Eve, which Telegram argues was motivated by the fact that Iranian political opposition were using the platform to communicate. The company filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the fine, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov told RAPSI on March 22.

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