Russia has ordered a block on access to the instant messaging service Telegram in the country. The block will come into force immediately, BBC reports. The order has come only a fortnight after the news emerged that Iran is also planning to ban the messaging service in the country.
Telegram has been facing trouble in Russia lately, after it refused to hand over the encryption codes to the authorities. It all began a year ago, when a planned terrorist suicide bomb attack killed 15 people on a subway train in St Petersburg last April. Russian security agencies claim terrorist are using Telegram to pass over messages secretly and plan attacks. Telegram was asked to hand over the encryption codes, which the company refused, even after multiple court rulings and fines.
Last month, the Russian Supreme Court had ordered Telegram to share its encryption keys with state authorities, or face ban. Telegram failed to turn up with the keys before the deadline of 4 April. The Russian government had enough and has now ordered a permanent ban to the service in the country. You can read the whole "Telegram vs Russia" saga here.
Telegram's main appeal is that its messages are encrypted and safe from access by unauthorized parties, which includes governments. Telegram has repeatedly denied to hand over encryption codes on grounds of respecting its 10 million users' privacy, but to no avail.
“At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed,” telegram founder Pavel Durov wrote in a tweet responding to the news. He has said the app will try to get around the ban. However, he couldn't guarantee all users will have access without the use of a VPN.