Telegram has appealed to the European Human Rights Court (EHRC) over a fine of RUB 800,000 fine ($13,984) issued to the secure messaging firm by a Russian court.
Russia passed legislation in 2016 that requires messaging services to grant the authorities the ability to decrypt messages. The fine has been imposed since Telegram has refused to provide its encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB – Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti), and Russia’s Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal by Telegram.
Telegram faces a ban on its service in Russia – one of its largest markets – and possibly a second fine if it does not submit to the authorities. The company is arguing to the EHRC that article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights guarantees the right to freely disseminate information without the interference of authorities and regardless of state borders, and that the fine is an infringement of this.
Damir Gainutdinov, a member of Telegram’s legal representation, noted that this will be one of the EHRC’s first cases covering electronic surveillance. He said: “We hope that, from our filing, the court will begin to formulate European standards in this area.”
Telegram’s commitment to privacy has seen it run afoul of governments and private companies alike, with Apple imposing a temporary ban on the app last month due to “illegal content, specifically child pornography”. Last year, the government of Indonesia threatened a similar ban over illicit content related to radical religious and terrorist propaganda.
However, there is evidently a market for Telegram’s services – it has generated $850 million in the pre-sale stage of an initial coin offering for the continued development and operation of its offering, and it is also working on blockchain technology.