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Russia lifts up its ban on the Telegram messenger app

    After a two-year ban on messenger app Telegram, Russia has finally lifted up its ban on the Telegram messenger app. The app was blocked in 2018 by the Russian court order because Telegram refused to share its encryption keys with the country’s telecom watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

    The country’s officials are sharing official updates about COVID-19 on Telegram, with almost 300,000 members, which makes them understand that Telegram was an important means of sharing critical information, especially concerning the COVID-19 pandemic updates.

    Before Roskomnadzor and the General Prosecutor’s office dropped the ban, they were assured by Telegram CEO Pavel Durov, that the company will help combat terrorism and extremism.

    Roskomnadzor confirmed that the company had shown “willingness” to help with counterterrorism efforts and added in a statement “Roskomnadzor is dropping its demands to restrict access to Telegram messenger in agreement with Russia’s general prosecutor’s office,”.

    Telegram logo

    The fact that Telegram refused to share its encryption keys, which is providing access to users’ data with Roskomnadzor, intrigued the ban, as it conflicts with Russia’s anti-terrorism laws, that require messaging services to give authorities access to decrypt messages.

    The company has a history of use by terrorist organizations, but CEO Durov said that the company has improved its tools for detecting and deleting extremist content on the platform and asks that the Russian official should lift the ban to let Russian users access the service “with more comfort.”

    Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service, that was initially released in 2013 and it is now available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, macOS, and Linux.

    Like other numerous social accounts out there, Telegram users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers, audio, and files of any type. But since its ban in Russia, the citizen of the European country has found other ways to access the app.

    This actually rendered the Telegram Russia ban ineffective, as the company used the IP address changes as one of the various measures to avoid being blocked, and ISPs blocking 15.8 million IPs on Amazon and Google cloud platforms, which affected Russian businesses that used those services, as reported by TheVerge.

    Court-ordered Russian telecom in April 2018 to block the service because it refused to give the Federal Security Service encryption keys to access messages. But Telegram confirmed that it wouldn’t be possible since encryption keys are stored on users’ own devices and the company doesn’t have them.