Russia’s Tagansky court has announced that Telegram access in the country will be blocked due to a failure of Telegram to provide encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB) that it could have used to decrypt user messages if the need had arisen. The court’s judge announced that the ban will be made instantly and that it will remain the case until Telegram provides encryption keys to the FSB.
As a response to the news, Pavel Durov, commenting in his Telegram channel, said:
“The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money. At any given moment, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets and thus force these companies to do strange things (remember how last year Apple moved iCloud servers to China).
At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”
Judging by Durov’s response, it appears as though Russians will lose their ability to access Telegram normally at least until the government decides to lift the ban. Luckily, Telegram does contain proxy settings which could potentially be used in order to circumvent the ban. They’re located in Settings > Data and Storage > Proxy Settings.
Writing in Russian on the social media website VK, Durov also confirmed that Telegram will be making some changes on their end in order to bypass the new blocks and won’t require any effort from users, however, these tweaks will not guarantee 100% availability of the service if users aren’t using a VPN. He also said that Russian users will still receive notifications in order to update them on the situation.
Lastly, he urged users not to remove or reinstall Telegram if they encounter connection issues but instead to install Telegram updates on the App Store or Play Store which should contain fixes if anything breaks.