It didn’t take long for judge Yuliya Smolina of the Tagansky District Court of Moscow to rule that the Telegram secure messaging service should be blocked on the whole territory of Russia.
She made the decision in less than 20 minutes and expects it to be effected immediately. The Roskomnadzor – the Russian media and telecom regulator – said that it will start the procedure to block the service as soon as it received a written ruling from the court.
Telegram (the company) has been fighting the Roskomnadzor for a while now. First it didn’t want to register with the agency as a “organizer of dissemination of information,” they refused to had over the encryption keys needed for the authorities to decrypt user communications.
The Russian supreme court has ruled last month that Telegram has to share its encryption keys with the authorities, and has given the company 15 days to comply. The company again refused and was taken to the Tagansky by the Roskomnadzor.
The lawyers representing the company were not present in court when the verdict was announced but, according to Bloomberg, they plant to appeal the ruling. They can do so within 30 days.
The ban will be effected once Roskomnadzor includes Telegram in the list of banned Internet resources and hands it to the country’s communications providers, who are expected to restrict access to the service.
Telegram has some 200 million active monthly users and of those 9.5 million are in Russia. Its lawyers say that hading over the encryption keys is technically impossible.
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has yet to comment the ruling. He previously stated that “threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users won’t bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.”
It remains to be seen how effective the ban can be, as users can use VPNs and proxies to circumvent the blocking measures.