Telegram feels the heat as providers start blocking its service in Russian Federation

On Friday, Moscow's Tagansky court blocked access to the cloud-based instant messaging service, Telegram, in Russian Federation over its failure to provide encryption keys to the Federal Security Service, the FSB.

The Russian state communications regulator has begun blocking access to Telegram following a court ruling against the popular messaging app last week.

The access to Telegram will be denied and there won't be technical conditions for sending messages, reported the Russian news agency TASS. Telegram, which was founded by a Russian entrepreneur, has repeatedly refused requests to give the FSB access to its users' encrypted messages.

The trial took place without Telegram's defense team.

"Many Telegram users have already adopted different messengers, and those who want to stay with this product know a lot of ways to get around the ban and continue using the services they are used to", Russian Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin conceded.

"Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed", Durov, who left Russian Federation in 2014, said on Telegram after the ruling.

Writing on Vkontakte, the social media platform Durov founded that is now under state control, he said the decision harms Russia's national security as users will switch to WhatsApp and Facebook which are "controlled from the USA".

For example, it has been used in the past to set up conference calls between officials and reporters.

A court in Moscow has endorsed a demand from the Russian media controller to hinder the Telegram informing application promptly.

Macron's inner circle - now government advisers or ministers - have grown fond of the Telegram app, which they used to plot his rise to power and his presidential election campaign previous year.

Iran, another authoritarian country in which Telegram is popular, is also reportedly mulling a ban on the app, with officials citing its transition into "an economic platform" that will "undermine the national currency of Iran" as justification for its censorship.

  • Rogelio Becker