Telegram App Banned in Russia After Refusing to Hand over Keys

    A Moscow court has ordered telecommunications companies to block the encrypted messaging app Telegram in Russia after it refused to grant intelligence authorities access to its users’ encrypted messages, Bloomberg reports.

    The decision will be a blow to the company just weeks after it raised $1.7 billion from investors in an IPO. Telegram, run by its Russian founder Pavel Durov, failed to comply with local legislation, according to the ruling of the judge, who granted a request by Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor to restrict user access with immediate effect. The decision can be appealed within 30 days, but must be implemented first, she said.

    Because Telegram is recognized as an operator of information dissemination in Russia, the company is required to provide encryption keys, according to law. The Federal Security Service has to be able to read the correspondence of suspected terrorists, Russian officials have explained. Telegram had fought to have that procedure deemed unconstitutional but lost a bid in the country’s Supreme Court last month.

    Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov commented on the court’s decision to block Telegram. According to him, in this case, there is no talk of infringement of users’ rights.

    “There is a provision of legislation that requires the provision of a certain set of data to certain services of the Russian Federation. The fulfillment of this condition was able to allow reaching a consensus, but, unfortunately, such a consensus could not be achieved, therefore the situation is completely different from the one you mentioned,” he told RIA news agency.