One of Russia’s most popular messaging services will soon be blocked
A court in Russia has made a ruling to block the popular messaging service ‘Telegram’. The ruling comes after Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder, refused to carry out a previous court order which demanded that Telegram provide Russian law enforcement agencies with access to their list of users.
Earlier, Durov did not allow his lawyers to stand with him in court, arguing that he ‘did not want to legitimise this obvious farce’.
What is Telegram?
Pavel Durov, the creator of VKontakte, which is the seventh most popular social network in the world, launched the Telegram messenger service back in 2013.
He said that the idea for creating the service, which would prevent law-enforcement from accessing the network, came to him in 2011 while police officers were trying to get into his St Petersburg apartment.
Two years later, Telegram was launched by Durov and his brother. Several years later, it became one of the most popular messaging services in the world. The highest number of users are in Iran, followed by Russia where more than ten million people use the application.
It is also popular in Brazil, Italy and the USA.
The number of users totals over 200 million.
Stand off with Russian law-enforcement
In summer 2017, the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) demanded Pavel Durov to provide them with technical information necessary to decode received, transmitted, delivered and/or encoded electronic messages. Durov refused to do so, saying that the uniqueness of the messaging application would be lost if the Russian authorities were able to gain access to Telegram’s user information.
At the end of last month, the Supreme Court of Russia recognised the FSB’s demands as legitimate and ordered Durov to fulfill the request.
Durov refused, and called the verdict unconstitutional.
What will happen to Telegram?
Well, not much. First off, Telegram users are mostly made up of young people who are at ease with internet technology. This includes users for whom the confidentiality of personal messages are important. For that reason Telegram users may install VPN (Virtual Private Network) software which will allow them to get around the block.
Moreover, internet users in Russia are already well-acquainted with VPN services given that a number of sites are blocked by the Russian authorities.
Anonymous authors from a popular Russian Telegram channel called NEZYGAR wrote:
“We will continue to work in Telegram. A change of platform is not being considered, and we do not consider the blocking of Telegram in Russia a threat…”
“A number of state officials are creating an independent segment of information distribution in front of our eyes today. This segment will totally be beyond the control of the state, and it will become opposition in nature. Of course, it will turn into a very serious factor.”