Russian operators have been ordered to block access to the secure messaging app Telegram from today (16th April).
The instruction was issued by communications regulator Roskomnadzor in response to a district court ruling that Telegram should be restricted after it refused to grant Russian authorities access to its user data. The app’s founder Pavel Durov has repeatedly claimed that the firm will now relinquish its encryption keys to the authorities.
Telegram’s refusal to comply with this direction has thus far incurred the app a hefty fine along with a legal challenge filed by the regulator in early April “with a request to restrict access on the territory of Russia to [Telegram’s] information resources.” Russia’s Federal Security Service is claiming that Telegram is violating its legal obligations as an “organiser of information distribution.”
While the secure messaging app is widely used among citizens, it is somewhat ironically also popular in government departments. Reportedly, government officials access the app via a VPN - a technique commonly used in Russia to circumvent internet restrictions - to communicate with the media and coordinate timing for conference calls.
In 2016, LinkedIn was hit with a similar ban in Russia for using overseas servers to store data related to Russian citizens.