Guest Post: NordVPN Talks About Russia Desire To Block Telegram

The Russian government is continuing its efforts to block the freedom of speech. Its current target is the Telegram messaging app, which has over 200 million users in total and is very popular in Russia. Legal proceedings have been started to block the messaging app in Russia since Telegram had refused to hand over its encryption keys.

Russia has been putting pressure on various international communications and social media companies to remove certain posts or to host their data inside Russia. Some companies gave in, while others refused to cooperate.

For example, earlier this year, Russia demanded that Instagram – which is owned by Facebook – remove posts from opposition leader Alexander Navalny. Instagram caved in. Youtube, owned by Google, refused to do the same and kept Navalny’s videos. Twitter agreed to store user data inside Russia, while Facebook rejected this demand.

“Russia will probably not stop – it will most likely target each company and website they’re interested in, to hand over user information or simply block them. The demand of the Russian government for the encryption keys of Telegram also shows its lack of understanding of how the technology works – besides being a violation of privacy and freedom of speech,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “The whole purpose of encrypted messaging apps is to keep the communications private.”

While the Russian FSB security agency claims it will use private conversations to fight terrorism, disclosing such messages could put many people, including journalists, bloggers and opposition leaders, in danger.

If Russia goes ahead with the intentions to ban Telegram, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) will have to block the domains and IP addresses used by Telegram.

“When someone blocks a certain website or IP address, the block can be bypassed by using a VPN,” said Marty P. Kamden. “A user can choose to connect to a VPN server in any country where that website is accessible, and easily bypass the restrictions. Also, all the information that passes between their computer and the VPN server will be encrypted and private. When Telegram was banned during Iran protests in 2017, many people turned to VPNs to keep using it for private messaging.”

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