Is there a limit to a state's control over users' data? If yes, what is that limit and what shall be the precedent for crossing the aforementioned limit? These questions and much more will be on the radar when Telegram fights the Russian government over the privacy of user data. The FSB (Federal Security Service) has imposed a fine of 800,000 rubles (approx. $14,000) on the company for refusing to share user data with the Kremlin.
Back in June, Telegram had agreed to register with the government in order to avoid a nationwide ban on the service. But, the service's founder, Pavel Durov had reassured users that "not a single byte of private data will ever be shared with any government". The FSB claimed that the messaging service was a communication channel for terrorists to perpetrate crimes on a large scale. Now, the Meshchansky Court of Moscow has levied the fine on the company but, its founder has refused to budge.
Mr. Durov wrote in a post on VK, another service he created, that the move was an unconstitutional one and violated the privacy of the citizens. Additionally, Durov asked if any lawyers were interested in helping him appeal the ruling. The post [translated] can be read below:
"In addition to the fact that the requirements of the FSB are not technically feasible, they contradict Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: "Everyone has the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic and other communications."
The desire of the FSB to gain access to personal correspondence is an attempt to expand its influence at the expense of the constitutional right of citizens. Today's decision of the Meshchansky court can be appealed until the claim of the FSB is examined by a judge familiar with the basic law of Ros"
This isn't the first time that Telegram has had a run-in with the authorities. The FBI allegedly tried to gain backdoor access to the service by courting Durov and even attempting to cajole a developer at the firm.