A Russian court has ruled that messaging app Telegram must be blocked in the country. The ruling follows months of battles between Telegram and Roskomnadzor, Russias telecommunications watchdog. Russias Federal Security Service (FSB) wants to access user data from Telegram through the sharing of encryption keys, but Telegram has refused to comply even after a court ruling. Russian news agency Tass reports that the messaging service will be blocked immediately following the latest court ruling, and the ban will be in place until Telegram provides decryption keys to the FSB. Its not clear how immediate the ban will be, though. The Financial Times reports that the ban will likely take place once Telegram has exhausted the appeals process over the next month. Russia implemented strict anti-terrorism laws in 2016, which required messaging services to provide authorities with the ability to decrypt messages. Telegram has been challenging these laws. Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov has now responded to the ban with a message of defiance on the service. At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales, says Durov. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed. Update April 13th, 8AM ET: Telegram statement added to the article.
However, it's unclear when the ban will take effect. Russian authorities have been threatening to ban Telegram since 2017 due to its developers' repeated refusal to give them access to users' data. Well, they can soon make good on that threat now that a Moscow court has officially issued a ban on the secure messaging application. It all started when KGB successor Federal Security Service (FSB) demanded access to Telegram's decryption keys last year. FSB wants those keys so it can read user messages, apparently as part of its anti-terror measures. It's no secret that Telegram has a terrorist problem due to the emphasis it places on user privacy -- in fact, the company has been blocking ISIS channels for years, though new ones continue to pop up. But it's also because of how much Telegram values security and privacy that its founder, Pavel Durov, wouldn't budge no matter hard the agency pushed. While his company eventually agreed to register with the Russian government as an information distributor that officially operates within the country, Durov refuses to comply with any request that can compromise user data. As a result, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor asked the court to ban the app. According to Russian news agency Tass, the ban will take effect immediately. However, Financial Times says the ban will likely come into effect after Telegram has exhausted all its appeals next month, and Roskomnadzor can only order internet providers to block Russian users' access to the application if the company continues to lose in court.