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Russia orders immediate block of Telegram app

Based on the court order, the ban could take effect immediately

Story Highlights

  • Russia bans Telegram with immediate effect
  • Status of other encrypted chat apps such as Signal is still active

A Russian court has ruled that messaging app Telegram must be blocked in the country. The ruling follows months of battles between Telegram app makers and Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecommunications watchdog. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) wants to access user data from Telegram through the sharing of encryption keys, but Telegram has refused to comply even after a court ruling.

Russian news agency Tass reports that the messaging service will be “blocked immediately” following the latest court ruling, and that the ban will be in place until Telegram provides decryption keys to the FSB. It’s not clear how immediate the ban will be, though. The Financial Times reports that the ban will likely take place once Telegram has appealed over the next month.

Russia implemented strict anti-terrorism laws in 2016, which required messaging services to provide authorities with the ability to decrypt messages. Telegram has been challenging these laws. Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov has not commented publicly about the ban yet, but the FT reports he withdrew his lawyers from today’s hearing after the court appointed it 24 hours in advance without warning.

Russia’s state regulator has asked a court to “immediately” ban the popular Telegram app’s messaging service over its refusal to provide tools to decrypt users’ messages.

The Roskomnadzor media watchdog moved to block the Telegram app after it missed a deadline last week to turn over tools to decrypt online communication to the government.

“Since teh Telegram app did not provide keys to decode messages, we are filing a request to immediately enforce the court ruling,” Interfax cited a Roskomnadzor representative as saying.

By law, Telegram can appeal the first ruling in court, keeping the popular app online until a second ruling.

The Tagansky District Court court has also satisfied Roskomnadzor’s request to include Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) as a third party in the case. The FSB has sought encryption keys from Telegram since the April 2017 St. Petersburg metro bombings.

Source
The Verge
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