Russian authorities ban Telegram

Investigators in protective clothing remove a van from an address in Winterslow Wiltshire as part of their investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England

The Russian government has ordered an immediate ban on Telegram, the encrypted messaging app, after the company ignored a court order to give the Federal Security Service access to encryption keys.

FSB, which is the main security agency in Russia has said that Telegram is the messenger of choice for Russian-based worldwide terrorist organizations.

According to Vedomosti, Telegram now has a month to appeal the block.

Russian Federation has blocked encrypted messaging app Telegram from operating in the country, following the app's refusal to hand over tools to decode user's messages. Telegram has repeatedly denied access on grounds of respecting its users' privacy. Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram Messenger, has confirmed that his company will not create a backchannel for government authorities to snoop on user messages.

The Kremlin uses Telegram to coordinate timings of regular conference calls with Vladimir Putin's spokesman, while many government officials use the messenger to communicate with media.

Telegram was given a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys but that deadline has now passed and the app stuck to its guns. Because of this, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor requested the court to ban the app outright.

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In a tweet responding to the news, founder Pavel Durov wrote: "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed".

In Russia meanwhile, multiple media outlets have published options for users to circumvent the block, something which is reportedly easy to do through the use of VPN services.

Users in Russia actively use virtual private networks, or VPNs, and other technologies, known as anonymisers, that allow people to get around restrictions that Russian authorities periodically impose on internet resources.

Roskomnadzor will start the procedure to ban Telegram after receiving the relevant order from the Tagansky District Court, according to a statement by the agency. It has 200 million users around the world, with many of them in former Soviet Union republics and in the Middle East.

Telegram will be using built-in methods to bypass the block, Mr Durov told Russian users on his page on the VK.com social network after the ruling. A spokesperson for the Kremlin says that the office will move to a new messaging service.

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