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Wednesday, 21 March 2018 09:19

Telegram loses bid to safeguard encryption keys in Russia

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The company behind encrypted messaging app Telegram has lost a bid in Russia's Supreme Court to prevent the state from gaining access to the encryption keys it uses.

Judge Alla Nazarova rejected Telegram's appeal against the country's Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, the successor to the KGB spy agency, which asked the company last year to share its encryption keys. Bloomberg reported.

Telegram refused to comply at the time and earned a fine of US$14,000. The communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, gave the company 15 days to provide the encryption keys.

Its lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev said Telegram now planned to appeal the ruling which may take a few months. He added that any move to block Telegram in Russia would require a separate court order.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov tweeted: “Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users won’t bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.”

The FSB told the court that the encryption keys would, in themselves, not violate users' privacy and that obtaining the content of any message would require a further court order.

Bloomberg cited the research agency Mediascope as saying that Telegram had more than 9.5 million Russian users. The company is in the midst of an initial coin offering, having raised US$850 million from investors in February.

The current ICO aims to raise US$1.7 billion to build a blockchain network with an inbuilt cryptocurrency known as Gram to enable transactions that are faster than bitcoin.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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