Telegram chat app blocked in Russian Federation

The decision to block the app comes from a ruling by a court in Moscow, which agreed to request from the Russian media regulator to prohibit the Telegram messaging app.

Roskomnadzor had threatened to ban the app in June a year ago for failing to join its official register, which requires companies to provide the FSB with information on user interactions.

The restriction was not unexpected as Telegram and its founder Pavel Durov have been engaged in a legal battle since the company refused to hand over encryption keys to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

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The Russian court told Telegram that it would ban the app if the company did not comply with its demands, and now the court has followed through on that threat. The ruling resulted from a petition to block the service that Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal agency in charge of communications and mass media, filed on April 6.

In July, Durov received the FSB requests to provide information for decoding messages of six app users.

The court filing by Roskomnadzor says Telegram had failed to abide by the rules and regulations as a "distributor of information".

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Privacy-focused messaging app Telegram today was banned in Russian Federation for once again refusing to turn over its encryption keys to government authorities.

Telegram is widely used across Russian Federation and other former Soviet states, and in the Middle East. Mr Durov, who was forced to sell his remaining stake in Russia's largest social network, VK, to a Kremlin-friendly billionaire in 2014, has said Telegram can't be bought - at any price. In an online statement Friday, Telegram founder Pavel Durov continued to resist Russia's demands, saying the government lacked the means to punish his company for its noncompliance.

Alexei Venediktov, the well-connected head of Russia's popular Echo of Moscow radio station, said the decision to block Telegram was an attempt by Russia's law enforcement to stop technological progress rather than adapt to it.

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As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government. Both opposition politicians and Kremlin officials use it to stay in touch, and self-described insiders publish anonymous leaks of varying reliability from inside the halls of power. "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed".

  • Gina Adkins