Russia's Supreme Court upholds FSB right to read Telegram messages

Roskomnadzor or Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media of Russian Federation will file a lawsuit with a demand to block Telegram Messenger Limited if the service does not pass the FSB the cipher keys of the correspondence of the users. The country's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the popular messaging app must provide encryption keys as requested by the security services.

Telegram replied with a counter-suit against the FSB in which it said that the order to give up the encryption keys was signed one day before the Law on Information that gives the FSB such powers came into force.

"The administrative lawsuit from Telegram Messenger LLP for declaring the FSB's order of July 19, 2016 void shall be turned down", the verdict read out by the judge said.

The FSB said the app was used by a suicide bomber who killed 15 people in St. Petersburg a year ago.

Yet the app is also popular among ordinary people around the world — from Russian election observers to French President Emmanuel Macron's staff. Telegram has claimed it has more than 100 million users.

"The company considers it its obligation to protect the privacy of its users' correspondence", Akhmetgaliyev, who is representing Telegram in its dispute with the FSB at the Russian Supreme Court, told journalists on March 20. "Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy", he wrote.

He said at the time that the Russian authorities were pressuring Telegram to comply with controversial legislation known as the Yarovaya laws.

A ban may be impossible to enforce anyway. Telegram plans to appeal the latest ruling as well.

Telegram, based in Britain, was under threat of closure in Russian Federation previous year.

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