Russia appears to be following through on its threat last year to block access to the Telegram encrypted messaging platform.
The BBC reports today that the Roskomnadzor media regulator has begun legal proceedings to block the app in the country, after Dubai-based Telegram refused to comply with requests that it hand over the encryption keys.
Telegram was given a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys, but the company has refused, explaining that the way the service is built means it has no access to them.
Russia’s main security agency, the FSB, wants the keys so it can read messages and prevent future terror attacks in the country. In its court filing, Roskomnadzor said the legal action was related to the FSB request and Telegram’s non-compliance with its legal requirements as a “distributor of information”.
Telegram’s lawyer, Pavel Chikov, called the Russian attempt to block the app “groundless” and said the FSB’s demand to access users’ chat logs was “unconstitutional, baseless, which cannot be fulfilled technically and legally”.
Telegram had a legal challenge to the demand dismissed in a Moscow court in March, but the platform creator Pavel Durov has said Telegram, which is widely used in Russia, will not “give up” the private data of its users.
Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users won’t bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) 20 March 2018
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