Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor has begun legal action to block Telegram, the secure messaging app, following its repeated refusal to allow the government access to user data.
The lawsuit was brought to a Moscow court “with a request to restrict access on the territory of Russia to the information resources of…Telegram Messenger Limited Liability Partnership.”
Telegram first attracted the attention of the watchdog in 2016 when it failed to comply with new legislation related to terrorism. The laws stipulated that Russia’s authorities must be able to decrypt correspondence sent via messaging services; Telegram’s refusal to surrender its encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB) resulted in a RUB800,000 ($13,817) fine.
In response to the penalty, Telegram appealed to Russia’s Supreme Court, losing the case last month. At the time, Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov tweeted: “Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users will not bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.” The company has now appealed to the European Human Rights Court.
Despite the threat of a block in Russia, Telegram is hugely popular, recently reaching 200 million monthly active users, which the firm described as “an insane number by any standards”.