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Russian Court Bans Telegram, Founder’s Insolent

The telegram has appealed against the decision to ban access in Russia and says it will do everything possible to ensure the services are accessible again in the country. The court said the ban will continue until Telegram complies with a directive to turn over keys to decrypt user messages.   

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Moscow’s Tagansky court ordered an immediate action to ban Telegram in the country. Since after the messaging app failed to hand over encrypted user messages to Federal Security Services.

It means telegram will not be accessible in Russia after the April 13 decision. Although it is not clear when the ban will be enforcing.

Particularly, the FSS demanded keys for decrypting the encrypted user messages in accordance with the recent anti-terrorism laws. The telegram said in a post that it never revealed a single byte of user’s private data to any agency since launching in August 2013. They said they do not deal with marketers, data miners or government agencies.

The court said to Judge Yulia Smolin that the ban will continue until the company complies with directives. It added that there will be no “technical conditions for sending messages.”

FSB said in summer that member of international terrorist organizations in Russia. It was using Telegram for high-level encrypted chats and communications. FSB said the network was used by a suicide bomber and plotter of the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg’s metro in April 2017, in which 15 people died.

The agency sent a request to Telegram founder Pavel Durov to provide information to decode messages for six phone numbers. Since using the app but the request went unanswered. Thus the Supreme Court ruled for an 800,000 ruble fine against Russia for failing to comply.

The telegram says in an appeal before the Supreme Court that the request or order was illegal and FSB had no such powers. Supreme Court turned down the lawsuit on March 20.

Following the new move, Telegram founder said they will do what is necessary to ensure their services are accessible in the country. Curiously, members of the Kremlin and the president himself use Telegram to communicate among themselves and broadcast their messages to the public. In fact, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov used Telegram for a conference call on Friday and said the team will adopt a new messaging service.

Private information not up for sale  

Telegram protested the move and Telegram Durov, who is himself a native Russian. He said in a Telegram post on his profile.

“The power that local governments have over IT corporations is on money. Meanwhile, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets. Thus force these companies to do strange things (remember how last year Apple moved Icloud servers to China). At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”

He was also at loggerheads with Russian authorities in 2014 when he refused to hand over user information for Vkontakte (VK), his first a social networking site.

Telegram is second to receive a ban in the country after Linkedin. Although Facebook and Google have also been at loggerheads with the Russian authorities.

Following the ruling, the lawyer for Telegram Pavel Chikov says the court process demonstrated again that it is devoted to serving the interests of the authorities. He added that they do not care about “basic external appearances” anymore.

A telegram has appealed against this decision.

What’s your take on the new ban on Telegram in Russia? Share your opinions with us on Twitter and Telegram.

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David Kariuki is a journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions including cryptocurrencies. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Hypergrid Business, Cryptomorrow, and Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review magazines.

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