Communications providers to block Telegram starting on April 16

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

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

Roskomnadzor, the Russian media regulator has been granted permission by a court in Moscow to immediately block Telegram messaging app. The ruling follows months of battles between Telegram and Roskomnadzor, Russia's telecommunications watchdog.

The conflict began when Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) announced it wanted access to Telegram's user data by way of encryption key sharing.

The court blocked the app for not complying with FSB's requests for encrypted data, in accordance with a Russian data protection law. According to Russian news agencies, the move has disrupted communication service for a number of people including senior government officials.

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.

In response, Telegram's lawyers said that they would file an appeal at the Moscow City Court after a careful study of the ruling.

Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, argues that Russia's FSB intelligence service is violating consumer rights, while authorities say the app has been used by violent extremists.

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Launched in 2013, Telegram is now among the world's most popular mobile messaging apps. "Telegram will use built-in methods to bypass blocking, which do not require action from users, although 100% accessibility of the service without VPN is not guaranteed", he wrote.

Telegram has also been caught out before as an enabler of terrorist groups, thanks to its near-fanatical emphasis on user privacy.

Unfortunately, access to VPN's is a bit trickier in Russian Federation than it is in other parts of the world, so some of those services may not be available.

"The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money", said Durov.

Pavel Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram, said the court decision is an example of how hard is it for a global technology firm to operate in Russian Federation. Providers will block the app starting from April 16.

"Telegram's lawyer, Pavel Chikov, warned, "[Russia has] demonstrated again and again that the court system is devoted to serving the interests of the authorities. "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed".

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