Russia continued its crusade against Telegram today. A court in Moscow has officially announced the ban of the application across the country earlier today. The move comes after weeks of controversy amid the denial of the company to provide a cryptographic key to decipher messages between users.
The Russian government has started a crackdown on the messenger several weeks ago. The firm denied co-operating with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), stating that it doesn’t have the technical capability to provide a message decrypting tool. In response, Russian authorities have filed a court case against Telegram with an early decision to fine the company $13,000.
Communications Commission Warning
The Russian Communications Commission (Roskomnadzor) which is overseeing the web in the country issued a warning to Telegram, urging it to provide officials with a message decrypting tool. After non-compliance with the request on part of the company for the term of 15 days, today’s court decision was issued, opening a new page for Russian authorities.
A representative of the Russian Communications Commission stated before the court: “Information which is being disseminated via Telegram could contain extremism and terrorism messages. Such content represents a threat to the Russian Federation and all of its citizens, including users of the messaging service.”
Until now, the Russian government has avoided banning major communication companies from accessing its web space. As pointed out by a reader on Twitter, today’s decision is shifting Russia closer to China in terms of internet censorship.
Хотел в этом году сгонять в Китай. Но сегодня Китай приехал сам
— теплый ламповый (@super_VHS) April 13, 2018
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The Russian Communications Commission will be including Telegram into the list of domains which are banned in Russia. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will, therefore, be urged to include Telegram into the registry of forbidden websites.
The court’s decision has bypassed a procedural hurdle for the ban, enforcing the decision immediately without providing the defense with an opportunity to delay the enforcement with a filing with the appeals court.
The Moscow court’s decision was taken rather swiftly as the company didn’t put in any legal effort to halt the procedure with the Founder of Telegram calling the process a “farce”. Russian web users have started actively ridiculing the ruling. One user stating that he is now breathing a sigh of relief for being well protected against terrorists.
Десять минут назад объявили о блокировке Телеграма. Сразу стало легче дышать: чувствую, что теперь наконец я защищен от террористов.
— Tikhon Dzyadko (@tikhondzyadko) April 13, 2018