Roskomnadzor, the Russian state’s communications authority and regulator, moves to block Telegram messaging service after company refuses to hand over decryption keys to private messages.
The state agency had ordered Telegram to provide back door keys to all of its encrypted messages. The request was denied by the tech giant, partly out of concerns for the privacy of its users and also because the company claim that the software behind the app makes complying with the request next to impossible, even if they wanted to.
The move by the government agency is just the latest move in an ongoing spat between Moscow and the Telegram app service. Telegram, which is registered in the UK and the US refuses to register itself within Russia as a Telecoms service provider.
Now, Roskomnadzor, has gone to court to try and block access to Telegram within Russia. “Now, we have filed a lawsuit and we’ll wait for the court’s verdict. That’s all for the moment… There should be a string of steps, and we act consistently. If you read law you will see that this is not our decision, we execute the decision of another body,” a spokesman for Russian News Agency, Tass, said.
Russia’s security service, the FSB, has previously claimed that encrypted messenger apps, such as Telegram, are the bedfellows of terrorists and criminals. Telegram in particular was named as being the preferred way of communicating between terrorists before an attack on the St Petersburg metro system, a little over a year ago.
That is ironic
Perhaps ironically, Telegram was founded by a Russian, the entrepreneur Pavel Durov and his brother Nikolai. According to Telegram’s lawyer Pavel Chikov, the government’s “requirements to provide access to private conversations of users are unconstitutional, baseless, which cannot be fulfilled technically and legally.”
The legal battle continues…