Russian Court Bans Telegram App After 18-Minute Hearing

By Neil MacFarquhar

April 13, 2018

MOSCOW — A Moscow court cleared the way on Friday for the government to ban 
Telegram, the messaging app, over its failure to give Russian security services 
the ability to read users’ encrypted messages.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications and technology watchdog, had asked the 
court for the authority to block the app, and for the ban to take immediate 
effect. It took the court all of 18 minutes to grant the request, after 
scheduling the hearing just one day before. Telegram had ordered its lawyers to 
skip the hearing in protest of the hurried process.

The ruling came a month after Telegram lost a lawsuit it brought against the 
Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., Russia’s powerful and secretive security 
agency, which had demanded access to messages. The Kremlin pushed through a 
sweeping antiterrorism law in 2016 that mandated providing the security 
services backdoor access to encrypted applications, among other measures.

Telegram said last month that it now has 200 million active monthly users, many 
of them in the lands of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Because of 
its strong privacy protections, it has long been a favorite of the Islamic 
State and other extremist groups.

There was no immediate comment from Pavel Durov, the Telegram founder, a 
Russian who fled the country in 2014 after losing control of the Russian social 
network Vkontakte, which he had also created.

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