After losing the battle in court with the Russian authorities, Telegram was faced with the immediate ban in the country. The company refused to give the government the access to users’ private messages, thus triggering accusations of aiding terrorists. Other messengers, however, feature similar end-to-end encryptions mechanisms, bit remain untouched by the watchdogs.
Pavel Durov used his own Telegram channel to speak directly to the users, once again stating his strong commitment to privacy and human rights:
”For the last 24 hours Telegram has been under a ban by internet providers in Russia. The reason is our refusal to provide encryption keys to Russian security agencies. For us, this was an easy decision. We promised our users 100% privacy and would rather cease to exist than violate this promise.”
The conflict with Russian government has been going on for a while now. The messenger has acquired the reputation as a relatively safe way to conduct private conversations all around the world and especially in the Middle East, where free speech is often suppressed. This led Russia to consider Telegram as a potential tool for communication among terrorists, so the ban was imposed. However, it turned out to be not very effective.
“Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there.”
Durov also announced his decision to use cryptocurrency for funding companies which allow the users to bypass the ban:
“To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN. I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”