Published: Fri, April 06, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Russia's media watchdog files lawsuit on restricting access to Telegram

Russia's media watchdog files lawsuit on restricting access to Telegram

Russia's Roskomnadzor communications watchdog said it had filed a lawsuit at a Moscow court on Friday "with a request to restrict access on the territory of Russian Federation to the information resources of".

In other words, the government wants to block the app from working in the country.

Telegram failed to fulfill the watchdog's order and did not submit user messages' encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 15 days after the Supreme Court upheld the FSB demand. Co-founder Pavel Durov, who lives in self-imposed exile overseas, said after the Supreme Court ruling that his company would not provide the FSB with encryption keys.

Durov wrote past year that the FSB's demands are "technically impossible to carry out" and violate the Russian Constitution which entitles citizens to privacy of correspondence.

Telegram was given a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys but the company refused to do so, claiming that the way the service is built means it's unable to access them. Roskomnadzor must now sue the company to obtain the authority to block the service.

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Last month, Pavel Durov, the founder and chief executive of Telegram, tweeted that threats to block the firm unless it gives up user data "won't bear fruit".

Telegram is now the ninth most popular mobile messaging app across the world.

At the time of writing, Durov has not publicly commented on Roskomnadzor's latest action.

But a lawyer representing Telegram said any ban would be unconstitutional and in any case impossible to enforce. Although Telegram later registered, it stopped short of agreeing to its data storage demands. However, even after that court decision, the company has the opportunity to challenge this decision.

Zack Whittaker can be reached securely on Signal and WhatsApp at 646-755-8849, and his PGP fingerprint for email is: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

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