Russian government likes to control everything, whether it‘s TV, newspapers, radio or any other media outlet. A few days ago Russia started to block Telegram, which is a cloud-based instant-messaging service, founded by the Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, also the founder of the most popular social network in Russia, Vkontakte. It’s an urgent issue in the country now and the topic is quite controversial, that’s why I’m writing a blogpost on it.
Telegram has more than 200 million users and is a top-9 messaging service made popular by its strong stance on privacy.
This ban comes after the messaging company refused to give Russian security services encryption keys. In other words, the company refused to give Russian state security access to its users’ secret messages.
The FSB said it needs such access to guard against security threats such as terrorist attacks. But Telegram’s founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, said “The terrorist threat in Russia will stay at the same level, because extremists will continue to use encrypted communication channels – in other messengers, or through a VPN”.
Here is also a fragment of his speech: “I think that privacy, ultimately, and the right for privacy is more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism. Yes, there’s a war going on in the Middle East. It’s a series of tragic events. But ultimately, the ISIS will always find a way to communicate within themselves. And if any means of communication turns out to be not secure for them, they’ll just switch to another one. So I don’t think we are actually taking part in these activities. I don’t think we should be guilty or feel guilty about it. I still think we’re doing the right thing, protecting our users’ privacy.”
I asked my friends who are in Russia now, if they still can use the app, and yes, Telegram is still operational in the country, however sometimes it doesn’t work properly. More and more people download VPN and Proxy, which are the programs that allow you to bypass the ban. On social media there are many mems and jokes saying “let’s ban the air, because terrorists also breathe it” or “let’s ban sex, because terrorists are born because of it”.
Anyways, Telegram stands for freedom and privacy and many people appreciate it, including me. The situation is not critical so far, but we‘ll see how it goes.