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Monday, April 9, 2018

Russia goes for Telegram

Por Feco

We all know what happened to the millions of users whose data were delivered by Facebook. We also know that even if these social networks swear they won’t use personal data, citizens are not exempt of privacy violation. Now Russia is asking to bloc messaging app Telegram because the company says no to delivering sensitive information to security services.

The Russian telecommunications regulator on Friday asked a court in Moscow to "limit access" to Telegram, an instant messaging application known for its high level of confidentiality and created by Russian Pavel Durov, reports France Presse. The company refused on Monday to deliver the encryption keys to the country's security services, which would allow them to access user data. But in a letter to the supervisor, the lawyer of Telegram, Dmitry Dinze, explained that the demands of the authorities were "inapplicable" from the technical point of view, due precisely to its very complex encryption system, by which the messaging itself has no access to some communications.

In a tweet published on March 20, the self-exiled founder of the messaging service, Pavel Durov, said he would reject any attempt to block Telegram and that the company "will represent freedom and privacy." According to France Presse, last year, Durov said that the demands of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB, for its Russian acronym) "are technically impossible to perform" and that they violate the Russian Constitution that entitles citizens to maintain private correspondence. Durov left Russia in 2014.

Since its inception in 2013, the courier company has attracted more than 200 million users. Telegram allows you to exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people and is especially popular among political activists. The company has become one of the biggest competitors of WhatsApp, which in 2014 was bought by Facebook for 19,000 million dollars (more than 15,000 million euros). The telecommunications supervision service request is the latest episode of a dispute between Telegram and the Russian authorities.

In mid-October, the Russian justice condemned the company to a fine of 800,000 rubles (18,000 euros) for refusing to cooperate with the FSB. In addition, last June, the regulator had already threatened to block the company for not delivering the registration documents. Although it finally provided them, Telegram refused to provide user data to the authorities. The anti-terrorist legislation of 2016 - which was condemned by the opposition-established that all communication enterprises need to storage in the country the data of the Russian users. Unlike Facebook and its board, Telegram is fighting to protect users data.