Russian authorities ask court to block Telegram messaging app

Apr 07, 2018, 01:26
Russian authorities ask court to block Telegram messaging app

Russia's regulator Roskomnadzor has begun legal action to block Telegram, the secure messaging app, following its repeated refusal to allow the government access to user data.

Telegram was ordered to hand over the encryption keys by Wednesday, but refused.

Telegram was set-up in 2013 by Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov and has became one of the most popular messaging apps in Russian Federation - even among top officials in the Kremlin.

Should the Russian government be successful, it will force ISPs to block Telegram inside the nation, in a similar manner to what has been done in Iran over the last 12 months.

Roskomnadzor said Telegram had 15 days to comply with its demands. The service now has over 200 million active monthly users.

But a lawyer representing Telegram said any ban would be unconstitutional and in any case impossible to enforce.

Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov, usually very outspoken on social media, has not commented on today's lawsuit.

A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin told journalists on Friday - on a conference call arranged via Telegram - that many Kremlin officlas use Telegram. Nonetheless, he added, "the law is the law". "Whom is it bothering?" he said. Co-founder Pavel Durov, who lives in self-imposed exile overseas, said after the Supreme Court ruling that his company would not provide the FSB with encryption keys.

The Roskomnadzor had threatened to ban the app in June past year for failing to provide its registration documents. It's already battled with Instagram and YouTube earlier this year over videos uploaded by political activist Alexei Anatolievich, while Twitter and Facebook have agreed to host user data locally to comply with encryption laws. "The company considers it its duty to stand for the privacy of its users", he stressed. According to the BBC, the company said that the way the service is built means it can't even access them.

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