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By Jay Bonggolto
Russia removes two-year ban on messaging app Telegram
by Jay Bonggolto
Russia blocked Telegram's access in the country in April 2018 due to its refusal to provide encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB) for use in decrypting messages if necessary. Today, the country's communications agency Roskomnadzor ended the ban on the service after it made some concessions (via Reuters).
Roskomnadzor said it lifted the ban on Telegram after its founder, Pavel Durov, agreed to work with the Russian government in "combating terrorism and extremism" on the service. The agency added that its decision to remove the restriction is "in agreement with Russia’s general prosecutor’s office".
It can be recalled that Durov responded to Russia's move two years ago by saying, "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed". Details of the new agreement between Telegram and Roskomnadzor remain unclear for now, but the latter has been asking the company to give access to certain data.
Despite the ban, Telegram did not completely went offline in Russia as it made a few changes to its service in order to circumvent the ban. However, that did not guarantee complete availability of the platform to everyone.
By Ather Fawaz
Progress 75 arrives at the International Space Station with nearly 3 tons of supplies
by Ather Fawaz
On April 25, 01:51 GMT, the Progress 75 spacecraft launched atop the Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian spacecraft was carrying over 2.7 metric tons of propellant, food, and other supplies. Less than 3.5 hours later, at 05:12 GMT, it docked at the International Space Station (ISS) 260 miles (418 kilometers) over northwest China.
Image via NASA TV Progress 75 is set to remain at the ISS until December. The spacecraft (one of the four spacecraft currently in use for resupplying) will be resupplying three astronauts on board the ISS: Chris Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner.
However, in under a month, the number is set to increase with the arrival of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley with SpaceX's upcoming maiden manned flight onboard the Crew Dragon in May. It will be the first orbital human spaceflight to launch from the United States since NASA's space shuttle fleet was retired nine years back in July 2011. Should things go according to plan, SpaceX will be cleared to start operational crewed missions to and from the ISS.
After completing its stay till December this year, Progress 75 will undock from the space station and descend towards the earth before burning up in its atmosphere, spelling an end to its operational lifecycle.
Russia says “nyet” to ProtonMail as it blocks the privacy-friendly e-mail provider
by Paul Hill
Russia’s digital regulator, Roskomnadzor, has said that ProtonMail has been blocked in the country because it, alleges, that the service is being used by bad actors to issue fake bomb threats. The regulator said that it had asked ProtonMail for help identifying the owners of the account but that ProtonMail was uncompliant; in response, ProtonMail said that it denies ever having received such requests from Russian authorities.
Commenting on the ban, ProtonMail said:
According to Roskomnadzor, the bomb threats coming from ProtonMail accounts increased this month after it had banned StartMail which also boasts strong encrypted services. Despite the ban, ProtonMail says that Russians wanting to cause havoc will just use other services to carry out their activities.
If all this seems a bit familiar to you, that’s because Russian authorities blocked ProtonMail for a period of time last year using bomb threats as the excuse for the block. At some point between then and now it looks as though the service was unblocked so this new block could be lifted too.
Russia completes successful test of national internet alternative
by Paul Hill
Russia has announced the successful test of its national internet alternative – Runet. According to Tass, the exercises were held on December 23 and aimed to ensure the stability of the network. The head of Russia’s Ministry of Communications, Alexey Sokolov, said that it showed the country was ready to maintain the integrity of the network “in the event of threats.”
Commenting on the news, Sokolov is quoted as saying:
A range of tests were carried out on the network, they included tests to ensure the integrity and security of the network from external forces, another test focused on ensuring the protection of personal data being shared across cellular networks. With the Internet of Things (IoT) expected to become increasingly important, the government investigated the risks to IoT devices in order to find ways to mitigate any problems.
Critics of the initiative have said that the Russian government would have a lot more control over the content being distributed and would be able to block content from the rest of the world from coming onto Runet. In the long term, Russia may seek to follow China’s lead in developing indigenous alternatives to already popular web services.
Source: Tass via BBC News
By Usman Khan Lodhi
Apple 'taking a deeper look' at how it handles disputed borders
by Usman Khan Lodhi
Earlier this week, the changes to Apple's Crimea map were announced by State Duma, Russian parliament's lower house, describing the former boundaries as an "inaccuracy". As a result of this, Apple received widespread Ukrainian condemnation and has now stated that it is "taking a deeper look" at how it handles disputed borders.
Trudy Muller, a spokesperson for Apple, said that no changes have been made to the Maps app outside Russia and only Russian users have received the update because of new legislation in the country. In a statement, Apple said:
The Crimea region was formerly considered a part of Ukraine, but Russian forces seized the territory, annexing it in March 2014 despite international criticism. Vadym Prystaiko, the foreign minister of Ukraine criticized Apple in the following tweet:
Since March 2019, Google Maps also shows Crimea belonging to Russia when viewed from inside Russia.