Russians to switch to WhatsAPP and Facebook due to Telegram blocking

Gwen Vasquez
April 17, 2018

A court in Russian Federation ordered a block of messaging app Telegram this week but founder Pavel Durov has shrugged off the impact of the ban 24 hours in - claiming the app hasn't seen "a significant drop in user engagement so far".

The Russian telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement released on Monday that it had notified telecommunication operators about blocking access to Telegram within Russia.

Telegram has more than nine million users in Russian Federation alone, and an estimated 200 million users worldwide. Allaying the fears of Telegram and its users, the FSB said obtaining the encryption keys does not violate users' privacy because the keys themselves are not regarded as information of restricted access. A suicide bomber who killed 15 people on a subway train in St Petersburg last April used the app to communicate with accomplices, the FSB said a year ago.

The agency revealed that the procedure had been launched after its lawyers received documents confirming the ruling by Tagansky District Court in Moscow last Friday, which ordered a block on Telegram in Russian territory.

"We consider the decision to block the app to be unconstitutional and we will continue", he said. Having taken to Russian social media network VK, Durov has outlined the key consequences of Roskomnadzor's [Russia's communications watchdog] decision.

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President Vladimir Putin's press office reportedly uses the Telegram as well.

Durov, however, warns that banning Telegram could actually compromise Russian state security and the security of 15 million Russian Telegram users.

After the court issued that ruling, Telegram founder Pavel Durov said on VK.com, the Russian Facebook clone that he also founded, that Telegram would use built-in mechanisms to bypass the ban.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

In 2017, Telegram and Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor seemingly found a common ground created to see the former continue to offer its services unhindered.

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