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Kremlin vs Telegram

The Russian authorities ' offensive to block the messaging service evidences its great campaign to control networks

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Kremlin vs Telegram

Russian authorities have launched an offensive to block access to Telegram mobile messaging service, whose owner Pavel Dúrov resisted and urged Tuesday to oppose judicial decision on behalf of "Defense of digital liberties and Progress ". On Friday, a Moscow court ordered blockade of Telegram for refusing to hand over its codes to Federal Security Service (FSB, Russian) as stipulated in law.

Roskomnadzor (The official body responsible for monitoring network and registering intercepted pages) blocked more than 16 million Internet Protocol (IP) addresses until Tuesday afternoon, according to data from a statistical page that holds records account Roskomnadzor. Of this figure, 9,400 IP addresses had been registered by Telegram, 3.6 million belonged to Google and 12.1 million to Amazon structures, according to information from RBK informative service.

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Telegram, which was located below WhatsApp and Viber, had come to have 10 million of users in Russia, according to radio station Kommersant FM. This is an Instant messaging service that is very popular with Russian political class. Dmitri Peskov, press officer of President Vladimir Putin, who had also used Telegram, expressed his hope this Tuesday that this service will fulfil conditions imposed by Roskomnadzor and can return to work in Russian territory.

The conflict between Roskomnadzor and Telegram is most spectacular chapter in offensive undertaken by Russian authorities, in name of national security, to control and restrict spaces of freedom in social networks and Internet. Two laws for this purpose are currently in process of approval in Parliament. The first is to "increase level of compliance" of judicial decisions that require to eliminate from network information that mancillen honor, dignity or reputation of citizens and companies and legal entities.

This law, which was initiated on 2 April, is in Council of Federation (upper House of parliament) after having been approved in third and definitive reading by lower house. The procedure to comply with judicial decisions on disposal of materials on web has been slow and ineffective until now. An example of this is an investigation of Anti-Corruption Fund (led by opposition politician Alexei Navalni) on real estate attributed to head of government, Dmitri Medvedev. In 2017 a judge ordered to remove some fragments of that investigation (accessible even on Internet), but decision has not been fulfilled. With approval of law, Roskomnadzor may block sanctioned materials within one day.

The or ongoing legislative initiative (adopted at first reading by Duma) provides for blocking of social networks and messaging services by disseminating information that any body of legislature — according to its own criteria and interests — Consider as untrustworthy or falsified. The dissemination of very exaggerated information on number of casualties that had occurred in recent fire in Siberian town of Kemerovo has been motive for dusting and retouching bill, which dates back to last year.

In its new version, law introduces concept of "public network" referred to both social networks and instant messaging services. According to project, Internet resources that are used by more than 100,000 people in course of a day must have a representation in Russia. "Public networks" owners will be obliged to prevent m from being used to disseminate publicly relevant information "untrustworthy" or "infringing law." After being warned by regulatory body, network owners are obliged to eliminate controversial information within one day. The intervention of judges is not envisaged.

In his challenge to Roskomnadzor, Dúrov said on Tuesday that he had begun to pay amounts in bitcoins to administrators of VPN (Virtual private Network, which allows to evade control of regulatory organs) and proxy services "in framework of Resistance And decentralized movement in defense of digital freedoms and progress. " On his Social network page Vkontakte (Russian equivalent of Facebook), rebel executive said he is preparing to invest millions of dollars of his private equity in this case. The Russian market "is not a substantial part of Telegram user base, but it is important for personal reasons" said Dúrov accusing Roskomnadzor of being willing to block millions of IP addresses and not take into account economic losses that Causes it.

On or hand, specialists of Roskomnadzor're going measures to defend website of institution, which was attacked three times in a day, according to reported on Tuesday its press service. On Monday night, head of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zhárov, reported that y had blocked 90,000 IP addresses from messaging service and nearly 600,000 IP addresses from Amazon.

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