There are some of you guys who might be familiar with the Telegram messaging app. The app, just like other messaging apps like WhatsApp, is known for its security with its encrypted messages that prevents messages from being read even if they are intercepted. Unfortunately it seems that it is this level of security and privacy that has resulted in the app getting banned in Russia.
The Russian courts have recently ordered that the Telegram be blocked in the country. This is because Telegram has refused to give the Russian state security access to its encryption keys which would give them the ability to decrypt and read messages sent using the service. According to Russia’s FSB Federal Security service, they claim that they need these keys in order to intercept messages that will help them prevent or safeguard against terrorist attacks.
This is a similar argument that the FBI has made in the US where they demanded that Apple help them to unlock iPhones belonging to criminal suspects, and that at one point even asked Apple to build a backdoor into the iPhone for such instances. However what’s interesting is that Telegram is used a fair amount in the Kremlin to communicate with reporters and also used to arrange conference calls with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
According to Pavel Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram, he has described the court’s 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. They no longer even care about basic external appearances.” No word on when the ban is expected to come into effect or if Telegram plans on appealing the decision.