Russian court orders ban on Telegram app
UnsurprisinglyBy Rob Thubron
In what's come as a surprise to no one, a court has ordered encrypted messaging service Telegram to be banned in Russia. The ruling comes a week after state communications regulator Roskomnadzor filed a lawsuit aimed at limiting access to the app within the country.
The saga began with the proposal of Russia's so-called anti-terrorist bill in 2016, which allows agencies such as the notorious KGB successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB), to access encrypted messaging services.
The FSB demanded Telegram share its encryption keys last year. It refused and was hit with a $14,000 fine. An appeal was lodged, but Supreme Court Judge Alla Nazarova rejected it last month.
After the April 4 deadline passed and with Telegram still refusing to share its encryption keys, Roskomnadzor started legal action last week. Today, Judge Yulia Smolina said, "The court ruled to satisfy the demand of Roskomnadzor."
"The ban on access to information will be in force until the FSB's demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages," she added.
The Judge said the ban must be implemented immediately, though the Financial Times believes it will take place following Telegram's appeal over the next month.
The FSB says Telegram is used by "international terrorist organizations in Russia." The agency says a suicide bomber who killed 15 people in a St Petersburg subway train last April used the app to contact accomplices.
Over 200 million people around the world use Telegram, making it the ninth-most popular communications app. Many Russian authorities also use the service---one employee suggested to Reuters that they will circumvent the ban using VPN services.