A Moscow court has ordered the blocking of the Telegram messenger service in Russia after the company failed to comply with the demands of the Federal Security Service (FSB). The block is effective immediately.
Telegram has been embroiled in a battle with Roskombadzor, Russia’s telecommunications watchdog. FSB demands from Telegram that it is given access to user data through the sharing of encryption keys. The messaging service has so far stood firm.
Last year, Telegram was fined USD14,000 for not complying with FSB’s demand. Telegram appealed but the Supreme Court upheld the ruling.
The current ruling is in place for the same reason – meet the FSB demands of providing keys for decrypting user messages or face a ban.
In summer 2017, FSB has claimed that international terrorist organisations in Russia actively used Telegram. Considered to be much more secure thanks to its high level of encryption, Telegram is favoured by terrorists as they can communicate securely via the service.
FSB said Telegram was used by the suicide bomber and plotter of the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg’s metro in April 2017. Some 15 people were killed in the attack.
The agency sent a request to Telegram’s CEO Pavel Durov to provide information for decoding messages for six phone numbers that were using the messenger. The request was ignored.
Russia enacted laws to combat terrorism in 2016, requiring messaging services to provide authorities with the ability to decrypt user correspondence.
Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users won't bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) March 20, 2018
Durov said in a tweet two weeks ago, that “Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.”
Until Telegram complies with FSB, the block will remain in effect.