Russian Federation starts blocking Telegram messenger - regulator

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Russian Federation is preparing to block the Telegram app over its failure to help government authorities access encrypted messages.

On Friday, Moscow's Tagansky court blocked access to the cloud-based instant messaging service, Telegram, in Russian Federation over its failure to provide encryption keys to the Federal Security Service, the FSB. The watchdog's chief, Aleksandr Zharov, told Russian media he plans on cutting off access to Telegram "soon".

He also said that regardless of blocking, Telegram will retain the ability to send notices to all Russian users, informing them about the development of the situation.

"The FSB's requirements to provide access to private conversations of users are unconstitutional, baseless, which can not be fulfilled technically and legally", he said. "This may take days, hours, or minutes".

The court order comes as Telegram refuses to provide law enforcement and intelligence operations with a key to read the encrypted messages on the service.

The authorities had claimed that Telegram was used by the terrorists who planned the St Petersburg metro attack in April 2017, which killed 15 people, according to news agency TASS.

For his part, the messenger's CEO Pavel Durov has stated that Telegram would use built-in methods to bypass blocking, which do not require user action. The messaging service offers end-to-end encryption, meaning that Telegram itself has no access to the content of messages.

"There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation", Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitri S. Peskov, said, adding that his office would resort to an alternative app the moment Telegram ceased working. He made a post about this on VKontakte, the popular Russian social network.