A Russian court has ordered that the Telegram messaging app should be blocked in the country. This is due to the company’s refusal to give Russian state security services the encryption keys to access messages sent using the service.
Russia’s FSB Federal Security service argued that it needs to be able to access the messages to safeguard against terrorist attacks. However, Telegram refused to comply with the demands for reasons of user privacy.
Telegram is the world’s ninth most popular mobile messaging app, and is widely used in both former Soviet Union and Middle Eastern countries.
It is notably used by the Kremlin to communicate with reporters and arrange conference calls with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman. A spokesperson for the Kremlin says that the office will move to a new messaging service.
It’s not clear exactly when the ban will go into place, but it is likely to be very soon. Pavel Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram, described the decision as a warning to other tech companies. “[Russia has] demonstrated again and again that the court system is devoted to serving the interests of the authorities,” Chikov said on his Telegram channel. “They no longer even care about basic external appearances.”
Telegram is currently in the middle of the world’s biggest initial coin offering, referring to the private sale of tokens which be traded as a cryptocurrency. So far, it has reportedly raised $1.7 billion in pre-sales via the offering.
Telegram’s troubles with Apple
This isn’t the first setback Telegram has suffered in 2018. In February, both Telegram and Telegram X vanished from the App Store.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that the apps had been pulled by Apple due to inappropriate content. “We were alerted by Apple that inappropriate content was made available to our users and both apps were taken off the App Store,” Durov said.