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The popular messaging app Telegram has been banned in Russia. A Russian court ruled a ban on the messaging service on April 13th and ruled in favor for the Russian government. It was reported that the messaging giant will be banned effective immediately. The decision comes a week after the Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor filed a lawsuit to limit the users’ access to the messaging app.

The hearing was less than 20 minutes long and the judge allowed Telegram the right to appeal the decision, a process that can take up to a month. The company’s lawyers were ordered to pass on the hearing in disapproval of the rushed process, scheduled the day before, April 12th.

The Russian court ruling is not surprising, after months of legal disputes between the agency Roskomnadzor and Telegram. It all started after the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) demanded access to user data from the messaging giant. Encryption is part of Telegram’s services as a message provider and it allows its huge user base to communicate with the security benefits of encrypted messages, thus limiting third party access.

A crackdown on Telegram

The company continuously refused to give the Russian FSB access to users’ encrypted messages even after the court ruling. The company declined these demands, because they respect the users’ right to privacy. The latest court ruling will be in effect until Telegram decides to provide the decryption keys to the Russian Federal Security Service.

“The court has decided to meet the requirements of Roskomnadzor and to impose restrictions on access to the Telegram messenger and to stop providing rechnical conditions for the exchange of messages. The ban on access to information will be in force until the FSB’s demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages.” – was ruled by the judge Yulia Smolina.

Since then the Russian telecommunication watchdog has added Telegram to its list of banned websites which could help in blocking the messaging app. The reason behind Russia’s FSB demands is to protect the Russian people from potential dangers like terrorist recruitment and attacks. The messaging service needs the use of virtual private networks to ensure that users will have full access to their accounts. Telegram’s CEO, Pavel Durov responded to the ban and stated that the company will do what it can to go around the ban. He also added:

“They have 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 … At Telegram we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or advertisement sales. Privacy is not for sale and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”

The ban will affect government officials

The Russian court ruling isn’t the first government move on communications. Since 2016, Russia implemented strict laws against terrorism and one of them requires all messaging services to allow the ability to decrypt messages to Russian authorities. Since then, Telegram has actively challenged these laws. Pavel Chikov, one of the lawyers that are representing Telegram, said on his own Telegram channel:

“Russian officials have demonstrated again and again that the court system is serving the interests of authoritie. They no longer care about basic external appearances.”

An interesting fact is that the ban of the messaging app will affect Kremlin member, who are using it to communicate between themselves, including people from the press-release office of the President Vladimir Putin.

Dimitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin was not concerned on the matter. In a call that took place on the same day, April 13th (Friday 13th coincidently) and on Telegram, Dimitry Peskov mentioned other options for messaging applications. It was reported that Viber could be a great alternative for government officials. He added:

“Limiting access was not the goal in and of itself. There is the legal position, which requires the provision of data to certain Russian state bodies. Meeting these conditions would have allowed for a consensus. But unfortunately this consensus was not reached.”

Telegram Initial Coin Offering

Telegram is ranked in 9th place in the world’s most popular messaging services and is been highly used in countries in the Middle East, Asia and the former Soviet Union. The messaging app is the 2nd global service to be banned in Russia, after the ban of LinkedIn in 2016. Investors will also keep their eyes on what is happening with Telegram, as the date of the company’s much anticipated Initial Coin Offering is coming closer and closer.

The pre-sale of Telegram’s token broke all Initial Coin Offering records and became the most funded ICO in history. It raised more than 1.7$ billion in two private sales. But is Telegram’s Initial Coin Offering overvalued, the reasons it could be or is it a great investment, read our article “Is Telegram ICO overvalued?

However, because of the enormous capital they raised and few other factors, the company may decide to cancel their high profile Initial Coin Offering in the end. If you want to learn more about why there is such a possibility, read our article.

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