Telegram chat app blocked in Russian Federation

Pat Wise
April 13, 2018

Moscow's Tagansky court satisfied the demand of Russia's telecommunications watchdog and blocked access to the Telegram messenger in Russian Federation over its failure to furnish keys to the Federal Security Service to decrypt user messages, a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom. According to Russian news agencies, the move has disrupted communication service for a number of people including senior government officials. Telegram had fought to have that procedure deemed unconstitutional, but lost a bid in the country's supreme court last month. However, he refused to abide by "laws incompatible with Telegram privacy policy", Durov wrote on his VKontakte (VK) page in late June.

In October 2017, a Moscow court imposed an 800,000 ruble ($13,000 at the current exchange rate) fine on Telegram over its refusal to meet the FSB's demand.

The court gave it 15 days to hand over the encryption keys.

Telegram had missed a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys. The ruling has become effective.

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A Moscow court has ordered telecommunications companies to block the Telegram chat app in Russian Federation after it refused to grant intelligence authorities access to its users' encrypted messages, in a blow to the company just weeks after it raised US$1.7bn from investors. On March 19, the lawsuit was dismissed. Telegram's lawyer told the newspaper that the messaging service plans to do so.

The Russian court's decision to block Telegram can hurt the company since it is a relatively popular app and can be accessed on mobile devices as well as desktops.

According to the Federal Law "On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information", organizers of information distribution on the Internet must submit information about users and their messages to the authorized governmental bodies conducting investigative activities and ensuring the state security.

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