Russian government blocks messaging app Telegram


Russian government blocks messaging app Telegram

Clara Weiss

17 April 2018

A Russian court issued a ruling Friday, April 12, to block the messaging app Telegram. In a months-long standoff with the Kremlin, the company’s CEO had refused to grant the secret service FSB access to users’ encrypted messages. The ban took legal effect on Monday, April 16.

The court hearing took just 18 minutes. Judge Yulia Smolina from the Tagansky court in Moscow ruled in favour of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), a national agency that is subordinated to the Ministry of Telecommunication and in charge of the massive censorship efforts of the Russian government. Pavel Durov, the head of Telegram, announced that the company would be using built-in methods to bypass the block for its 9.5 million users in Russia.

The ruling is based on the “anti-terror laws” signed by President Vladimir Putin in 2016, which have provided the legal basis for a massive crackdown on Internet and communication freedoms in the past two years. This is part of an international drive by capitalist governments to censor the Internet and block encrypted communication, in anticipation of mass struggles by the working class.

According to the Russian laws, telecommunications operators have to store their customers’ phone calls and text messages for six months. Messaging services like Facebook and Telegram have to provide decryption keys to the FSB. Moreover, Russians are legally required to inform authorities about potential terrorist acts, and postal employees are required to inspect packages.

The standoff between Roskomnadzor and Telegram started in June 2017, when the Russian agency asked the company to register in Russia and hand over…

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