A Russian court ruled Friday to block the Telegram messenger service in the country. The decision came just days after Roskomnadzor filed a lawsuit to restrict access to Telegram after the company repeatedly denied offering access to its user’s secret conversations to Russian state security services. Roskomnadzor is the Russian federal executive body responsible for media and telecommunications.
The latest decision would affect hundreds and thousands of people, including some senior government officials in Russia, using Telegram messenger for communicating with their friends and families. The service offers end-to-end encryption, which means that nobody can read the messages except the participants.
Russia’s Federal Security service (FSB) asked Telegram to give access to some of the conversations for security reasons, but the company didn’t meet the demands saying user privacy is the utmost priority.
Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, said they would soon impose the ban on the service, but didn’t revealed the exact date, according to the TASS news agency. In response, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said the app will try to bypass ban using its built-in systems, though 100 percent access to the service isn’t guaranteed.
Telegram is the 9th most famous messaging app in the world and widely used in Russia and adjacent countries including Middle East. The service is also being used by several politicians and journalists in Russia. Kremlin also use the service to connect with reporters and organize regular conference calls with the President.
Speaking at a conference call on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said his office would soon shift to another messaging service.
In a similar way, LinkedIn was banned in Russia a couple of years ago for not obeying a law that require firms keeping Russian citizen’s data to store it on servers located inside Russia. Tech giants including Google and Facebook were also in a row with Russian authorities recently.
Roskomnadzor recently asked the world’s biggest social network, Facebook, about the measures it was taking to meet its obligations under the data law. It also intends to conduct an audit of the company’s compliance with the Russian law later this year.