Telegram has been given the ban hammer in Russia. The ban came about because the app’s creator, Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, refused to share the encryption protocols with the Russian government – an act that could essentially allow them to read the encrypted messages.
The country’s communications and technology watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had asked for the app to be block with immediate effect after Durov’s refusal. All in all, the Moscow court presiding over the issue adhered to Roskonadzor’s within 18 minutes of the hearing.
Pavov has said that the request by the Kremlin is impossible, and explains that the encryption happens at an individual user level and that there is no universal key that would grant one user visual access over the app’s 200 million active monthly users.
Telegram stands as one of the most popular messaging apps around the world, thanks to its strong privacy protections. Ironically, it is those same privacy protections that has given extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) the ability to securely communicate with each other. An even bigger irony to the scenario? Telegram itself is the preferred messaging service of Vladimir Putin’s press office.
For Russians using the app, fret not. Durov posted several points on his official Vkontakte page (a Russian version of Facebook) over how Russian users could circumvent the ban. The points are as written below:
- Telegram will use built-in methods to bypass the block, which do not require additional steps from users, but the company cannot give a 100% guarantee of service availability without VPN.
- Third-party VPN/Proxy-might be overloaded, which is likely to result in slow operation during the first hours after the block.
- Regardless of the block, Telegram will be able to send notifications to all Russian users to keep them informed of the developments.