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Telegram App Banned in Russia

As expected, messaging app Telegram has been formally blocked in Russia after its owner refused to hand the authorities encryption keys to help with investigations.

The popular app is used by many around the world to communicate without the fear of being monitored by repressive governments.

A recent demand by Russian security agency the FSB to help Telegram decrypt messages linked to six phone numbers went unanswered by the firm.

As a result, a Russian court has now backed the telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor in issuing the order on Friday to block the app in the country with immediate effect.

The authorities had claimed that Telegram was used by the terrorists who planned the St Petersburg metro attack in April 2017, which killed 15 people, according to news agency TASS.

The company’s owner Pavel Durov — born in St Petersburg but now living in the West — released a statement via the app on Friday, claiming that “the power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money.”

“At any given moment, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets and thus force these companies to do strange things (remember how last year Apple moved iCloud servers to China),” he added.

“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.”

Telegram has also consistently argued that the FSB’s requests for encryption keys is unconstitutional and can’t be met from a technical perspective without diminishing security for all users.

It’s the same argument that Apple has used time and again when requested by the FBI for it to provide de facto backdoor access to devices for law enforcers.

Russia’s latest move can be seen in the context of an increasing crackdown on online freedoms by the Putin regime, which has seen the state also ban the use of VPNs

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