Blocking Telegram in Russia
Blocking Telegram in Russia is the process of restricting access to Telegram messenger on the territory of the Russian Federation. The technical process of this restriction began on April 16, 2018. The blocking led to interruptions in the operation of many third-party services, but practically did not affect the availability of Telegram in Russia.
The essence of the conflict
Yarovaya law went into effect on July 1, 2018. The law binds telecom operators to keep all voice and messaging traffic of their customers for half a year, and their internet traffic for 30 days.
According to the position of the Russian courts based on Yarovaya law, Telegram is required to store encryption keys from all user correspondence and provide them to Russia's Federal Security Service, also known as the FSB, upon request. Telegram management insists that this requirement is technically impracticable (keys are stored on users' devices and are not in Telegram's possession). Pavel Durov, Telegram co-founder, had said that the FSB's demands violated the constitutional rights of Russian citizens to the privacy of correspondence.
Courts and legal position of the parties
A conflict betwwen FSB and Telegram began earlier than Yarovaya law came into effect. In September 2017, FSB filed a lawsuit on the non-fulfillment of the Yarovaya law by the messenger. In October 2017, a judgment was delivered in favor of the FSB, imposing a fine on Telegram in the amount of 800 thousand rubles. The reason was the lack of telegram keys from Correspondence 6 persons accused of terrorism. According to the statement founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, even if the request of the FSB was limited to help in capturing six terrorists, Telegram could hardly help the special services, because the mobile numbers interesting to the FSB either never had accounts in Telegram, or their accounts were deleted due to inactivity. At the same time, the requirements of the FSB mean the creation of a technology that would enable the special services to access the correspondence of any users.
According to Pavel Durov believe, the FSB's requirements are not feasible:
In addition to the fact that the requirements of the FSB are not technically feasible, they contradict Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation : "Everyone has the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic and other communications".
If the FSB had confined itself to requesting information about several terrorists, its demand would fit in with the Constitution. However, we are talking about the transfer of universal encryption keys for the purpose of subsequent uncontrolled access to the correspondence of an unlimited circle of persons.
Pavel Durov put out a call on October 16, 2017, for lawyers who are willing to represent Telegram in a court to appeal the decision. Two days later Durov said that he received 200 proposals from lawyers, and chosen Inter-regional Association of Human Rights Organizations "Agora" to represent Telegram in the court battles.
Russia's Supreme Court rejected Telegram's lawsuit to FSB on Macrh 20th, 2018. After the court ruling, the Russian watchdog Roskomnadzor said the messaging service had 15 days to provide the required information to the country's security agencies. FSB defended its position saying that providing FSB with a technical ability to decode messages does not annul legal procedures such as obtaining court rules in order to perlustrate specific messages.
On April 13, Moscow's Tagansky court ruled to block access to Telegram in Russia over its failure to provide encryption keys to the FSB.
On April 22, 2018 in different cities of Russia was "an action in support of free Internet", timed to the seventh day of the blockade of Telegram. Residents of Russia launched paper airplanes (the symbol of Telegram). Proposals to hold this action were sent by Telegram on the morning of April 22. Later Pavel Durov added a request to remove the aircraft in an hour's time.
On April 30, 2018, in the center of Moscow, an action was held in support of the blocked Telegram in Russia, which collected (when counting the passed through the established framework) more than 12,000 people.
- "Роскомнадзор начал процедуру блокировки Telegram - Экономика и бизнес". ТАСС (in Russian). Retrieved May 19, 2018.
- https://www.rt.com/russia/424664-russian-term-data-storage/ Russian govt cuts the term of required data storage for telecom providers from 6 months to 1
- Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation from 12.04.2018 #445 "On approval of regulations of storing by the telecommunications operators of their users' voice information, images, sounds, video- and other messages" (in Russian)
- Decree of the Meshchansky court on administrative violation (in Russian)
- A letter from the FSB about an administrative offense (in Russian)
- Durov explained where are the keys for deciphering of Telegram
- Online Messages Are Not Protected Under Secrecy of Correspondence
- Messaging app Telegram will not hand over data despite fine
- Russia fines Telegram for not giving backdoor access
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- Telegram Founder Durov Puts Out Call for Lawyers to Fight Encryption Fine
- Human Rights Law Firm to Defend Telegram in Government Encryption Row
- Telegram files appeal to fight Russian Supreme Court’s decision
- "Письменные возражения ФСБ, представленные в Верховный суд" (PDF). Agora (in Russian). October 16, 2017. Retrieved Dec 3, 2018.
- "Россияне запустили бумажные самолетики в поддержку свободного интернета. И пообещали убрать за собой". Meduza (in Kyrgyz). April 22, 2018. Retrieved May 19, 2018.
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