Russia to Block Telegram After Court Ruling

The government of Russia, through its media supervision agency, Roskomnadzor, has banned the popular messaging app Telegram. The ban has caused an outcry from human rights activists the world over and highlighted the continued enforcement of stringent measures by the Russian government in the online media world. Telegram, which is quite popular in the cryptocurrency universe, has termed the ban “an open farce” through its founder, Pavel Durov.

The Long-Running Battle

Telegram and the Roskomnadzor have been engaged in a battle for Telegram’s encryption keys since 2016 when the Russian government passed its anti-terror laws. These laws require messaging services to surrender their encryption keys to the Federal Security Service. Durov, however, declined to issue the encryption keys to the government and described the laws as incompatible with Telegram’s privacy policy.

This sparked a long battle between Telegram and Roskomnadzor, whose name translates to the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. Telegram has maintained that it can’t surrender the encryption keys to the government, as they are not stored in any central location but rather on the users’ devices. The Roskomnadzor was not satisfied and took the matter to court. According to the agency, getting hold of the encryption keys will help in the fight against terrorist acts that it believes are coordinated through the instant messaging app.

In a court hearing that lasted only 18 minutes on February 13, the presiding judge, Yulia Smolina, acceded to the agency’s request, giving it the go-ahead to start blocking the messaging app immediately. Telegram wasn’t represented at the hearing, as Durov had requested that Telegram’s lawyers not attend it. Had the lawyers attended it, they would have legitimized the hearing, which he referred to as an open farce.

What’s Next For Telegram

Durov advised Telegram users in Russia not to uninstall the app, saying that the app would use built-in methods to bypass the block. Speaking on his VKontakte account, he went on to tell users to expect slow speeds from VPN services for the first few hours after the ban. Following the news, Opera VPN quickly rose to the top of Apple’s App Store in Russia, a clear indication that Telegram’s users are not about to drop the app anytime soon.

At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.

This was the message from Pavel Durov on his Telegram channel.

It remains anyone’s guess as to how this ban will affect the planned development of the Telegram Open Network (TON), which has caused quite a stir in the crypto universe in recent months. Having raised a record-breaking $1.7 billion in its pre-ICO, Telegram has made a name for itself in the crypto market.

However, it remains to be seen whether the platform can deliver on its promises, or if it is all just one overhyped project, as some in the community have described it. TON has promised to deliver a number of services to its users which will include decentralized file storage, buying and selling of digital assets, decentralized browsing, support for DApps, and a DNS service, among other features. The Gram token will be the network’s native digital asset.