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Russian court blocks Telegram messaging app in privacy row

Russian authorities insist they need access to encryption keys to investigate serious crimes including terrorist attacks.

A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them.

The ban follows a protracted row between Telegram and Russian officials who insist they need access to encryption keys to investigate serious crimes including terrorist attacks.

The Moscow court ruled that Telegram will be blocked in Russia until it hands over the keys.

Telegram, a popular app developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, argues that the FSB intelligence service is violating consumer rights, while authorities say the app has been used by violent extremists.


The Supreme Court last month threw out an appeal by Telegram against the requirement to provide the data.

Mr Durov had asked his lawyers not to attend the court hearing because he said he saw the verdict as a foregone conclusion.

Pavel Chikov, one of Telegram’s lawyers, said in a post on his Telegram channel that the company would not back down in the face of the Russian intelligence services because the court hearing, which lasted about 20 minutes, showed that the case against Telegram is politically motivated.

“It is impossible to make any concessions or accept any agreements in this situation,” he said.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, whose team uses Telegram to arrange briefings for reporters, said it is not the Kremlin’s place to comment on court rulings.

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

Mr Durov in a social media post called on Telegram users in Russia not to delete the app and keep downloading updates, promising the latest version will have “built-in” features to circumvent the ban.

“Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed,” he said.


From Belfast Telegraph