Russia Considers Lifting Telegram Ban Under One Condition: Sharing Encryption Keys

Russian news outlets have recently reported that Russia’s telecom watchdog has spoken about the Telegram ban and stated in which conditions the program would be unbanned from the country. According to the reports, the watchdog might consider reverting the ban if the messaging service Telegram submits to a court order that requires it to share its encryption keys.

The keys would be sent to the Federal Security Service (FSB). The whole problem started when the province of Roscomnadzor began blocking local access to Telegram after the company did not comply with a court order to makes the keys available for the FSB to decrypt messages that could aid the agency in its fight against terrorism.

After not giving the keys, Telegram appealed the Russian Supreme Court, which sided with the FSB. This issues appeared just after Telegram held its $1.7 billion Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which was made over two rounds that only had private investors interested in the technology firm.

However, Telegram is not indicating that it would cede and give its encryption keys to the authorities at all.

Telegram’s Response

The official lawyer of Telegram has recently talked about the case during an interview. According to Pavel Chikov, the lawyer, Telegram has never denied that the authorities have a right to fight terrorism, but they have to come to terms with the fact that the users from the company need their privacy.

According to the lawyer, the court order should have respected the privacy of the users and asked for a disclosure not of the messages and much less the encryption keys, but to the IP address and telephone number of the suspects. The lawyer defends that a balance must be made with national security and privacy.

The Telegram founder, Pavel Durov, has responded to the ban stating that he is creating a “digital resistance” initiative which will give Bitcoin (BTC) to users and organizations that can help the users in providing proxies and VPN services to allow the users to bypass the government ban.

Far away from Russia, Iran has levied a ban on Telegram following the ICO, too. The reason was that the new cryptocurrency created by the company could have the potential to “undermine the national currency of Iran” and be used to funnel money out of the country.

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