The popular messaging service Telegram was banned in Russia on Friday after a protracted battle with authorities.
A Russian court has imposed the ban on the messaging app on request of Russian authorities
It remains unclear, however, when the restrictions will actually come into effect, and on Friday afternoon the messenger was still accessible in Russia.
The company’s founder and chief executive Pavel Durov responded to the ruling, saying the company would not allow Russian authorities to decrypt users’ private conversations. “Telegram will use built-in methods to bypass any blocks,” Durov wrote on social media.
Why was Telegram blocked?
The saga between Russia’s authorities and Telegram in mid-2016 when lawmakers introduced anti-terrorist laws that require “information disseminators” to register in a state database and to decrypt personal information for the Federal Security Services (FSB).
After an Islamic State (IS)-linked suicide-bombing in the St. Petersburg metro last April left 16 people dead, the FSB claimed the perpetrators planned the attacks using Telegram.
To aid its investigation and prevent future attacks, the FSB demanded that the company hand over the “encryption keys” that would allow authorities to read private conversations.
Telegram refused, citing free speech. (On Friday, Durov wrote: “Human rights should not be compromised out of fear.”) Two prominent Russian journalists also later sued the FSB, citing confidential access to sources. They lost the suit.
All the while, Telegram has claimed the company does not even have access to the encryption keys which would decipher users’ messages.