Russia lifts Telegram blockade after two years

Russia has lifted the blockade of the instant messaging service Telegram after two years. According to the telecoms authority, Telegram has shown willingness to counter terrorism and extremism.

The Russian telecoms authority Roskomnadzor lifted the blockade on Thursday, without there being any indication that this would happen, writes the Moscow Times. The authority says it is “ready to work with any internet company present in the country to counter the spread of terrorist and extremist information, child pornography, and suicide and drug propaganda.”

It is therefore not clear why the authority has now decided to drop the blocking requirement. That blockade went into effect in 2018 when the Moscow court upheld Roskomnadzor’s request for a blockade. That request came because Telegram refused to hand over encryption keys to the FSB intelligence agency. The FSB wanted to access communications from Telegram users because of the explosive attacks on the St. Petersburg metro in 2017.

In 2018, Telegram did adjust its privacy policy with a passage that it hands over personal data and IP addresses of terrorist suspects if the service receives court orders about this. Despite the blockade, Telegram has remained very popular in Russia, according to the Moscow Times, and many government officials are said to be using the service, too.