Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor blocked IP addresses owned by Google and Amazon as they were being used by Telegram, an app it has moved to ban.
Earlier this week the watchdog asked operators in the country to block access to the messaging app over a long-running tussle with the app maker regarding its refusal to hand over encryption keys to Russian authorities.
In its latest move, Roskomnadzor blocked 18 sub-networks and reportedly some 15 million IP addresses belonging to Google and Amazon, the Interfax news agency reported.
“We have informed both companies that a significant number of IP addresses located in the clouds of these two services have fallen under the block on the basis of the court ruling (to block Telegram),” Roskomnadzor’s head Aleksandr Zharov said.
He added he hopes to get “legally meaningful” responses from Amazon and Google this week.
The move not only prevents Russian citizens from accessing Telegram, but also other services which route content through Google and Amazon servers, including the Viber messaging app, which tweeted: “Some users in Russia are experiencing problems making calls on Viber. These issues seem to come from connectivity problems to Amazon Web Services in Russia.”
Microsoft and Windows updates, online games by publisher Wargaming and Netflix also appear to have been impacted.
Some users have got around this by using VPNs, which are popular in the country.
Telegram CEO and founder Pavel Durov said on his Telegram channel he would give out millions of dollars worth of grants in digital currency Bitcoin to those who run VPNs, and called on them to join the Digital Resistance, a “decentralised movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally”.
Durov also commented on the situation via Twitter.
Within the last two days, Russia blocked over 15 million IP addresses in attempts to ban Telegram on its territory. Regardless, Telegram remained available for the majority of Russia’s residents #digitalresistance https://t.co/2syVbVzXPg
— Pavel Durov (@durov) April 17, 2018
Durov is a Russian entrepreneur who left the country in 2014 and is a vocal critic of the country’s policies on internet freedom.
He recently said Russians account for about 7 per cent of its users.
Meanwhile media reports state Roskomnadzor will conduct a probe of Facebook before the end of 2018 for violating laws requiring data on Russian citizens to be stored inside the country.
Telegram has also recently run into trouble in Iran, where governmemt bodies have been banned from using it.
No reason was given for the move but, according to Reuters, the order came after Russia, Iran’s ally in the Syrian war, blocked the app.