Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia Fines Telegram App Over Encryption-Key Demand

Pavel Durov

A Russian court has imposed an 800,000 ruble ($14,000) fine on Telegram for refusing to provide the Federal Security Service (FSB) with encryption keys to the popular messaging app.

Judge Yulia Danilchik issued the ruling on October 16 at Moscow's Meshchansky District Court.

The ruling came after Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said on September 27 that the FSB had notified him that his firm was in violation of counterterrorism laws requiring companies to provide access to encrypted communications they facilitate.

Durov posted scans of the FSB documents on VKontakte, the Russian-language social-media network that he founded.

He said at the time that Russian authorities were pressuring Telegram to comply with controversial legislation known as the Yarovaya laws.

Rights groups call the laws a draconian infringement on privacy that can be used to stifle dissent, and Durov called them unconstitutional.

Durov launched Telegram with his brother in 2013. The messaging app has become an influential forum for news and debate, featuring popular channels run by news sites, journalists, and political analysts.

Asked on October 16 whether the Russian authorities would seek to block Telegram, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said, "To my knowledge, this is not being discussed so far. In fact, no one has suggested it."

The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on the court ruling.

In 2014, Durov announced that he had left Russia after he was forced to sell his stake in VKontakte amid pressure from authorities.

Based on reporting by RIA Novosti, Dozhd, and Interfax