Telegram is now blocked in Russia
Telegram, the world’s ninth most popular mobile messaging app is now no longer available in Russia. With over 200 million global users, the app that was created by a Russian entrepreneur has already been under pressure for a while to hand over encryption keys to Russian authorities.
Motivating the request as a necessity in Russia’s fight against terrorism, the Roskomnadzor requested access to the app’s user data. Telegram’s owner Pavel Durov refused to comply with the request and a lawsuit was filed against the company last month. After the unfavorable verdict, the company had 15 days to hand over encryption keys and user data, and the failure to comply put it in violation of Russian regulations.
A new lawsuit was filed by Russia’s state communication watchdog to limit access to the service and the block was granted.
The app is currently still accessible in Russia, but the block will come into effect in the shortest time possible according to a Roskomnadzor official, as all ISPs have been instructed to restrict the access to the app.
Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov, was a social media pioneer in Russia, but has left the country in 2014 and has been living in exile ever since. Ever since his departure, he has been a vocal critic of Russia’s policies on Internet freedom.
In a tweet responding to the news, Durov declared that privacy is not for sale and that human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed. He also added 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”
wrote Durov, remembering how Apple moved its iCloud servers to China last year.
Durov’s position on protecting its users’ privacy seems strong at the moment, but it remains to be seen if the company will agree to any concessions in order to get Russians’ access to the messaging platform restored.
Due to the app’s popularity and the new confidence boost Durov’s position on privacy has granted the platform, many Russians will probably look for ways to bypass the ISPs restrictions.
A solution could be the use of VPN services. A Virtual Private Network could help bypass the ISP block by routing the users’ internet access through a server located in a different country, which in terms would mean that the data transferred to and from their computers or mobile devices will appear as moving to and from Telegram through a location where the access to the app is not restricted. On top of this, by using a VPN, the users’ data is encrypted, and the real location hardly traceable.
It could represent the perfect solution for people in Russia who want to bypass the restrictions imposed by the Roskomnadzor.