Russian Federation files lawsuit to block Telegram messaging app

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The laws stipulated that Russia's authorities must be able to decrypt correspondence sent via messaging services; Telegram's refusal to surrender its encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB) resulted in a RUB800,000 ($13,817) fine.

Telegram, which is based in Dubai, was given a deadline of 4 April to hand over the keys. The head of Russia's Federal Security Service, or FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, said earlier this week that terrorists had attempted to coordinate 29 attacks in Russian Federation with different messaging apps in 2018 alone.

From this year they must also store all the data of Russian users inside the country, according to controversial anti-terror legislation passed in 2016 which was decried by internet companies and the opposition.

According to ZDNet, the lawsuit contains a "request to restrict access to the territory of Russian Federation to the information resources" of the app.

"The decryption keys for mobile chats are kept on the devices themselves", Telegram lawyers told a court in December 2017.

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In a statement, he said: "The FSB's requirements to provide access to private conversations of users are unconstitutional, baseless, which can not be fulfilled technically and legally". Telegram has refused to comply with its demands, citing respect for user privacy.

However, as in Iran, such restrictions can be easily bypassed through the use of a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy server, which can funnel a user's data through a country where the service is not blocked. A Moscow court dismissed that lawsuit last month.

Russian censors moved on Friday to ban Telegram, the popular messaging app, for refusing to help security services decode encrypted messages. Durov has steadfastly refused, even as the Russian government has been threatening to ban Telegram if he didn't cooperate. The service recently celebrated achieving a new milestone of 200 million active users per month.

Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov, usually very outspoken on social media, has not commented on today's lawsuit.

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