Russia is making good on its threat to ban Telegram by blocking IP addresses owned by Google and Amazon, saying they were being used by the messaging service.
On Monday (April 16), a Russian court made it easier for the government to block Telegram after its creators refused to turn over access to its users’ encrypted messages.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications watchdog, requested that the authority block the app’s use in Russian territories, explaining that authorities need to be able to decrypt messages sent by potential terrorists. But Telegram missed an April 4 deadline to turn over keys that would make that possible.
According to Reuters, head of Roskomnadzor, Alexander Zharov, said it had blocked 18 sub-networks and a significant number of IP addresses belonging to Google and Amazon.
“We have currently informed both companies that a significant number of IP addresses located in the clouds of these two services have fallen under the block on the basis of the court ruling (to block Telegram),” Zharov said.
The move prohibited Russian internet users from accessing Telegram and other services that route content through Google and Amazon servers. Some users, however, were able to get around the block by using virtual private networks.
Zharov revealed that Roskomnadzor hoped it would receive “legally meaningful” responses from Amazon and Google today (April 18).
In 2016, the Kremlin supported an anti-terrorism law that required authorities to be given backdoor access to encrypted applications.
Telegram has been accused by Russia’s security agency, the FSB, of being the messenger of choice for “international terrorist organizations in Russia.” The agency also claimed that Telegram was used by a suicide bomber who killed 15 people on a subway in St. Petersburg last year.
But Telegram says its app is developed so that it is impossible to provide authorities with a universal key that decrypts end-user messages. In addition, Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, said the government lacked the ability to punish his company for its noncompliance.
“At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales,” Durov, a Russian who fled the country in 2014, wrote. “Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”