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Russia blocks (Russian) privacy-focused messaging service Telegram

Russia has blocked access to encrypted messaging app Telegram across the country, the BBC reports.

The company, founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, has been under increased pressure from Russian authorities, as it refuses to disclose its users data— which Russia demands to access for security and counterterrorism reasons.

Recently, Russia’s Supreme Court ordered that the company give its encryption keys to authorities; the company refused , triggering another proceeding that resulted in today’s block.

In response to the decision, company’s founder Durov took to Twitter.

“Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed,” he  said.

Durov is particularly impermeable to government interference: his previous venture, Russian social network Vkontakte, was seized by Russian authorities and taken over by President Vladimir Putin’s chums, after Durov refused to hand over user data. He has lived abroad since 2014.

Durov elaborated at greater length on his Telegram channel.

“The power that local governments have over IT corporations is based on money. At any given moment, a government can crash their stocks by threatening to block revenue streams from its markets and thus force these companies to do strange things (remember how last year Apple moved iCloud servers to China),” he wrote.

“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.”

The situation could— as it often happens— end up being nearly meaningless: Russian citizens have long become used to government interference , and they might just turn en masse to VPN to circumvent the ban.

Image via bit.ly/2JKUa1I

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