A Moscow court has banned the popular Telegram messaging app, in a landmark decision that moves Russian Federation a step closer towards Chinese-style internet censorship. Russia's FSB Federal Security service has argued it needs access to Telegram messages for safeguarding against acts of terrorism, among other things.
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Russia's top network providers, Megafon and MTS, declined to comment on the ban. "They no longer even care about basic external appearances", he said on his Telegram channel.
The messaging app is widely used across Russian Federation and many nations in the Middle East.
Fallout from the court decision will also be closely watched by investors as Telegram is undertaking the world's biggest initial coin offering - a private sale of tokens which can be traded as an alternative currency, similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum. So far, it has reportedly raised $1.7 billion in pre-sales via the offering.
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Durov, who in 2014 sold his VK stake to Ivan Tavrin, former CEO of the telcom Megafon, which is majority-owned by Putin ally and oligarch Alisher Usmanov, has said that efforts to obtain access to messages would be hopeless. "But unfortunately this consensus was not reached". Telegram has been challenging these laws. Restriction of access will be carried out within the framework of the current legislation. Telegram, which was founded by Russian tech luminary Pavel Durov but operates from outside the country, refused to do so.
The court's ruling came out of a lawsuit filed by Roskomnadzor, a state communications watchdog. It claims to have more than 200 million active users.
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