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Russia Bans Telegram, a Popular Encrypted Messaging App

"Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed."

A Russian court has banned Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app, because of the company's refusal to give its encryption keys to the state. The move has disrupted millions of users' communications channels.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has been after Telegram's user data, labeling the organization a first-choice platform for "international terrorists organizations in Russia" after a suicide bomber reportedly used it to communicate with accomplices.

When the FBS demanded that Telegram decrypt its user data, Telegram attempted to fight the action in court. Last month, it lost the bid to appeal, was slapped with a $14,000 fine, and had a 15-day window to comply with the order. After Telegram continued to defy the court, the government prohibited it entirely.

"The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money," said Telegram founder Pavel Durov in a statement. "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."

Durov's statement also referenced Apple's choice to bow to the Chinese authorities by relocating its iCloud services and cryptographic keys to China, in order to secure market access. Some fear that this may make it easier for Beijing to abuse users' rights.

"At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales," Durov said in his statement. "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed."

Telegram and Durov are no strangers to nationwide bans. Durov has lived in exile since 2014, after the Russian government pressured him to resign from his position at the social networking site Vkontake—often described as the Facebook of Russia—largely because he refused to give encryption access to allies of President Vladimir Putin.

Iran wants Telegram banned by the end of April. Officials there are upset that Telegram gives Iranians access to foreign sources the government does not support. In Indonesia, the company faced temporary bans after it emerged that ISIL groups used Telegram to promote its content. And here in the U.S., Congress, the FBI, and the Justice Department have all expressed an increasing interest in bills that would allow the government to compel individuals or companies, such as Telegram, Apple, and Facebook, to decrypt their data.

Telegram currently has 200 million users worldwide. According to Bloomberg, roughly 9.5 million of those live in Russia.

Photo Credit: Marcel De Grijs | Dreamstime.com

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  • CE||

    I read that as they banned telegrams.... shows how old I am.

    Though if you think about, the original telegram was "an encrypted messaging app".

  • Juice||

    Privacy is not for sale

    Huh?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    "Riiiight" - Mark Zuckerberg

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It wasn't for sale, millions of users gave it to him for free.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Yeah, and then he sold it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It was no longer private at that point.

    WORK WITH ME PEOPLE!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Russia Bans Telegram, a Popular Encrypted Messaging App
    "Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed."

    Y'see, that's the problem, countries like China and Russia, they're old school. They just say "no", but in America, we're much smarter. We drag the CEO before a senate subcommittee and pillory him into playing ball. No sense of nuance, these Russkies.

  • Just Say'n||

    Careful. Don't insult China. Russia is the baddie and we need to impose more sanctions. But, China is totes good and to impose sanctions on them is worse than Hitler.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And here in the U.S., Congress, the FBI, and the Justice Department have all expressed an increasing interest in bills that would allow the government to compel individuals or companies, such as Telegram, Apple, and Facebook, to decrypt their data.

    But does Congress have left in it many more omnibus bills in which to bury such a thing.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Russia behaving like the authoritarian dystopia it is. Damn that Putin. And damn anyone who failed to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, thereby allowing Russia to install a puppet in the White House.

    #TrumpRussia

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hot.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Did you ever pleasure yourself to Hillary, OBL?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Unlike the misogynists on the right wing, I'm capable of appreciating women as more than mere sex objects or masturbation fantasies. I like Hillary Clinton because of her honesty, her patriotism, and her passion for improving the lives of the less fortunate — not because of her resemblance to a centerfold.

  • ||

    So that's a Yes?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I was really impressed how she could dodge snipers in Bosnia and keep her composure. She is a brave woman. An example to us all.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Dodge sniper fire IN HEELS no less.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    New Sheriff in the cryptocurrrency town: Burstcoin.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's a good gimmick.

  • Nardz||

    Is Reason playing up the Russophobia with a click-bait article like this just for the clicks, or at the behest of their progressive comrades?
    There's little to no reason for a Reason article here. The only significant fact is that "Russia did it" - if it were Iran, North Korea, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, or any number of other countries, Reason would remain silent. Status quo.
    But they paid somebody to write it... cui bono? (other than the author, who made by far the easiest of bucks I've seen today)

  • ||

    Reason would remain silent

    Hard to argue with omniscience.

  • Christophe||

    Longer-form article about Iran, just last week: social media beats censorship

    So while they're not reporting every single instance of censorship (way too much of that happens worldwide), they're not singling Russia out.

  • Just Say'n||

    Reason is a neoliberal publication so their Russiaphobia makes about as much sense as their love of China.

    "Tariffs are worse than Hitler" and "More trade sanctions on Russia" makes no sense, but that explains the nonsense thinking of the neoliberal

  • damikesc||

    I wonder why this is a concern of Reason when South Africa deciding to reinstitute apartheid --- but just the opposite direction --- is not.

    It's not like Russia is any more of a concern for us than South Africa is.

  • Get lit||

    Guys, Russia doesn't deserve this trash talk from Reason.

  • Just Say'n||

    DanO why did you come back with a new name, but equal parts stupid?

  • The Last American Hero||

    Silly Russian government. All the Russian hipsters know that Telegram is for old people and nobody cool really uses it. They've all moved on to Snappchatterbook.

  • prediksifajar||

    bocoran hk

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