Court bans Telegram messaging app in Russian Federation

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Judge Yulia Smolina reportedly needed a measly 18 minutes to reach a verdict, ruling to "immediately" satisfy the demand of Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal executive body responsible for media and telecommunications.

In March of this year, Russia's Supreme Court ruled that Telegram was required to provide the FSB with decryption keys that the security agency had requested in the wake of a 2017 terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. "The Russian authorities should refrain from shutting Telegram down and allow the appeal process to proceed unobstructed". The laws, however, grant the government expansive powers to access user data and communications from internet and telecom companies.

Telegram declined to comply with the requests for encrypted messages, citing users' privacy and technical challenges.

Russia took another step in its campaign against online privacy today, by banning the highly popular encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is owned by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov.

"Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven't disclosed a single byte of our users' private data to third parties", a Telegram blog post insisted.

In addition, Telegram IT specialists explained that it was not possible to hand over encryption keys to clients' messages because the correspondents exchanged them directly. At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales.

However, Telegram's lawyer Pavel Chikov said makes an try and stop the app being utilized in Russian Federation are "groundless".

Telegram is widely used across Russian Federation and other former Soviet states, and in the Middle East.

Telegram is one of the fastest growing social messaging platforms in the world and it recently surpassed 200 million monthly active users.

Russia's state communications watchdog sought the ban last Friday in a lawsuit that asked the court for the authority to block the app's use in Russian territories.

As well as being popular with journalists and members of Russia's political opposition, Telegram is also used by the Kremlin to communicate with reporters and arrange regular conference calls with President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.