Russian court orders immediate nationwide ban on Telegram messaging app


The Russian government has ordered an immediate ban on Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, after the company ignored a court order to give the Federal Security Service access to encryption keys. The recent decision b the Tagansky District Court in Moscow meant that Roskomnadzor which is the internet monitoring organization in Russian Federation will now force ISPs to block the access of Telegram very soon. Roskomnadzor threatened with the trial if Telegram would not pass the encryption keys to the FSB.

The ban comes after a protracted dispute between Telegram and Russian authorities, who insist they need access to the encryption keys to investigate serious crimes, including terrorist attacks.

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.

Telegram did not respond to the request and was fined 800,000 rubles (£9,103), before it filed a case with the Russian Supreme Court claiming the FSB's order was invalid, which was subsequently overturned, according to news agency Tass.

"The ban on access to information will be in force until the FSB's demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages", she said.

Telegram was still available late Friday afternoon in Russian Federation, several hours after the court ruling.

Given how widely Telegram is used, a suspension of service is bound to affect users in the country. Telegram has repeatedly denied access on grounds of respecting its users' privacy.

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The case was brought to court a year ago by the FSB, Russia internal security service.

The court decision on Telegram is meant to make one of the last holdouts among communications companies bow to Putin's efforts to track electronic messaging. The app´s creator Pavel Durov banned lawyers representing Telegram from attending the court hearing so as not to legitimise it.

"The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money", said Durov.

As a result, the app was blocked for a few weeks by the Iranian government.

Telegram is especially popular among political activists of all stripes, and is also used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists.

"Telegram's lawyer, Pavel Chikov, warned, "[Russia has] demonstrated again and again that the court system is devoted to serving the interests of the authorities.