A Russian court on Friday ordered that access to the Telegram messenger service be blocked in Russia, heralding possible communication disruption for millions of users in the latest clash between global technology firms and Russian authorities. "The court ruled to satisfy the demand of Roskomnadzor", Judge Yulia Smolina said. Roskomnadzor threatened with the trial if Telegram would not pass the encryption keys to the FSB. The court has made this decision after the company refused to hand over encryption keys used to scramble messages.
In June 2017, Roskomnadzor requested Telegram management to comply with the Russian legislation or face blocking of the messenger.
Roskomnadzor claimed that Telegram was not entirely honest in these statements, as some unnamed experts said it is still possible to give the security services some keys allowing secret messages to be decoded.
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But Russia's FSB Federal Security service has said it needs access to some of those messages for its work that includes guarding against terrorist attacks.
As a result, Roskomnadzor filed a lawsuit demanding the messenger be blocked in Russian Federation on April 6.
The Telegram messaging app is extensively by Russian Federation authorities, and is very widespread all through the Middle East. According to a blog post attributed to Telegram founder Pavel Durov, the app has built-in workarounds for such bans.
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Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov has repeatedly condemned Russia's efforts to compromise the app's security and privacy features, and he said last month that the court's threats "won't bear fruit".
Unfortunately, access to VPN's is a bit trickier in Russian Federation than it is in other parts of the world, so some of those services may not be available.
"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.
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As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government. An irony not lost on officials is that they too use Telegram for communication purposes, and that includes President Putin's own press office. The company filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the fine, lawyer Damir Gainutdinov told RAPSI on March 22.