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Russia began implementing a ban on popular instant messaging service Telegram after the app refused to provide encrypted messages to Russia’s security services.
Russia’s state telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor said Monday that it had sent a notice to telecommunications operators in the country instructing them to block the service following last week’s court ruling that sided with the government to ban the app.
“Roskomnadzor has received the ruling by the Tagansky District Court on restricting access in Russia to the web resources of the online information dissemination organizer, Telegram Messenger Limited Liability Partnership. This information was sent to providers on Monday 16th of April,” the watchdog said in a statement.
In a statement posted on social media, Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov said, “We consider the decision to block the app to be unconstitutional, and we will continue to defend the right to secret correspondence for Russians.”
Durov is a Russian entrepreneur who left the country in 2014 and is now based in Dubai. He has long said he will reject any attempt by Russia’s security services to gain access to the app, arguing such access would violate users’ privacy.
Roskomnadzor is implementing a decision handed down by a Russian court, which ruled on April 13 that Telegram should be blocked. The court said the app was in violation of Russian regulations to provide information to state security.
Telegram is ranked the world’s ninth most popular messaging app with over 200 million users worldwide. It is widely used in countries across the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and is popular among political activists and journalists. Russian authorities said the app is also used by violent extremists.