Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor today (16 April) instructed telecoms operators in the country to block access to the Telegram messenging app, following a court order.
In a statement, the regulator said it was responding to a ruling by a district court calling for restriction of access to the app’s services. The court acted after Telegram refused to allow Russian authorities to access its user data: the move is the latest step in a saga which so-far involved a fine and a lawsuit.
Roskomnadzor filed a lawsuit at a Moscow court in early April “with a request to restrict access on the territory of Russia to the information resources” of the messenging app.
It said the suit was related to a Federal Security Service complaint Telegram was not complying with its legal obligations as an “organiser of information distribution.”
Pavel Durov, founder of the Telegram app (pictured), repeatedly said the company will not hand over encryption keys to Russian authorities.
In addition to being popular with citizens, the app is widely used by government departments.
Reuters reported the app is used to coordinate timings of conference calls with the President’s spokesman, and government officials use it to communicate with media. A government source hinted they would use a VPN app to access Telegram, a method often used in the country to get around such restrictions.
LinkedIn faced a similar block in the country since 2016 for storing Russian citizens’ data on servers outside the country.