Russia Trying out Different Technology to Block Telegram Messenger

    The Russian authorities are experimenting with more precise technology to block banned messaging service Telegram after an attempt to shut down the app failed because it affected other traffic, Reuters reports.

    According to the news agency, Russia’s state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has been trying to come up with a method of blocking individual online services.

    The watchdog has been trying to block Telegram, which has 200 million global users and has been popular in countries including Russia and Iran, since April, when it refused to comply with a court order to give security services access to users’ encrypted messages.

    However, these attempts failed because the authorities inadvertently blocked Russian users’ access to a slew of unrelated online services, including voice calls on the Viber messaging service, cloud-based applications for Volvo cars, and apps that control Xiaomi video cameras. Because of that hiccup, the attempt to block Telegram was put on hold, and the service is still accessible to Russian users.

    Since August 6, Roskomnadzor and state security agency the FSB have been testing systems designed to allow more precise blocking of individual services, according to the minutes of a meeting between officials to discuss the plan.

    The systems being tested now use a technology called Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). The technology operates in a more surgical way, analyzing Internet traffic, identifying the data flows of particular services and blocking them.

    This week, Telegram said it would comply with requests by investigators to cooperate in terror probes everywhere in the world, except in Russia. In its updated privacy settings, the company said it would disclose its users’ data to “the relevant authorities” elsewhere if it receives a court order to do so, although not in Russia.

    “If Telegram receives a court order that confirms you’re a terror suspect, we may disclose your IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities,” the new privacy settings say. “So far, this has never happened. When it does, we will include it in a semi-annual transparency report,” the app added.