In a not-so-surprising move, Russian authorities have demanded ISPs to block access to Telegram – an encrypted messenger service on Friday, April 13, shortly after the platform raised $1.7 bln in its token sale to support its own blockchain platform.
Although it’s unsure when the ban will be carried out, the director of the Russian internet authority, Roskomandzor, Aleksander Glazov stated: “We’re talking about days, maybe hours, maybe minutes”.
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov stated, “At Telegram, we have the luxury of not caring about revenue streams or ad sales. Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed”.
Durov prevented his own lawyers from attending the hearing as it was, in his words, ‘a farce’. He said, “To be truly free, you should be ready to risk everything for freedom”.
There are, however, multiple Russian media outlets that are publishing options for users to skirt around the block, something that is somewhat easy to do using VPN services.
There are certain versions of Telegram that are more difficult to block – such as the mobile app. The Ukrainian government blocked Durov’s social network VKontakte in May 2017, though it had little effect due to the users being able to use VKontakte via its mobile app.
Although it’s expected that the Russian government will be banning the use of Telegram, it’s unlikely that it will drastically affect the estimated 10 mln users, as they can use the mobile app or a VPN to circumvent the government’s interference.