Telegram Founder Pledges Millions to Fight Russian 'Political Censorship'

Adjust Comment Print

Telegram founder Pavel Durov has announced that he is willing to fund proxy servers and VPNs that help bypass the Russian government's ban on the messaging app.

Russia's leading daily Vedomosti in Wednesday's editorial likened the communications watchdog's battle against Telegram, affecting millions of users of other web-services, to warfare.

Telegram is reportedly using the addresses to get around the block.

Many lampooned Roskomnadzor's decision on social media, saying the move to ban so many IP addresses had secondary repercussions, as it also blocked many legitimate web services. The censorship began with Roskomnadzor instructing Internet service providers to block requests to Internet Protocol addresses of Telegram's servers.

The decision to block the messaging app followed a months-long standoff between Telegram and the FSB, which demanded the encryption keys so it could access users' messages.

Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, claims the app can be used by terrorists.

While losing Russia-based users - estimated at 7 percent of Telegram's total base - would not have a long-term negative impact on the app, Durov said "it is important for me personally to make sure we do everything we can for our Russian users".

Going-out-of-business sales at The Bon-Ton start this week
Wednesday, a bankruptcy court approved Bon-Ton's sale of all assets and a plan to wind down company operations. Bon-Ton had already announced in January that that store would be closing, along with more than 40 others.

Countless Russian businesses - from online language schools to vehicle dealerships - reported that their web services were down because of the communication watchdog's moves to bloc networks.

Elsewhere in Moscow, a court on Wednesday sentenced a member of the punk collective Pussy Riot, who spent almost two years in prison for a protest in Russia's main cathedral, to 100 hours of community work for a protest against the Telegram blocking. Not only for cloud companies like Google and Amazon, but also for official services and even at least one Russian news outlet. Presumably, Russians can still download Telegram from those app stores.

Like many countries, Russian leaders don't like the fact that encrypted private messaging apps let citizens evade domestic surveillance, but their sloppy blacklist of more than 1.8 million IP addresses is causing all manner of connectivity headaches.

Russian Federation previous year also passed legislation forcing VPNs to block sites blocked by the government.

All messaging services in Russian Federation that offer encryption need to register with authorities.

The online games Guild Wars and World of Warships both said their users were having trouble logging on as a result of Roskomnadzor's blocking of IP addresses. The online English-language school, Skyeng, said its students were unable to log in to courses on April 16, according to a posting on Vkontakte, Russia's popular social-networking site.

Comments