Russia, upping pressure on Telegram app, says terrorists use it

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 26, 2017

"During the investigation into the terrorist attack of April 3 in St. Petersburg's metro, [the Federal Security Service] received reliable information that the suicide bomber, his allies and his foreign curator used the Telegram messenger to hide their criminal plot during all the stages of preparation for the terrorist attack", said the counterterrorism agency, which was once headed by Putin.

According to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), members of worldwide terrorist organizations active in Russian Federation use Telegram the most. Russian Federation said the Telegram app was used by those behind the bombing.

Russian Federation has threatened to block the messaging app unless Durov signs the new data laws.

Reacting on the social media, Telegram founder Pavel Durov wrote on Monday that the Russia's communications regulator had also urged his company to hand over the keys to the security services so they could decrypt user messages in order to find the terrorists.

Durov said the demand violated the constitutional right to keep correspondence secret and was also technically impossible.

The use of encrypted chat messengers, and specifically Telegram, by terrorist groups is not news on its own. Once the app is on the official government list of information distributors, it would have to store user information from the past six months on Russian servers. If Russia banned Telegram, he said terrorists would simply switch to Telegram's many competitors which also offered end-to-end encryption.

"During the probe into the April 3 terrorist attack in the Saint Petersburg metro, the FSB received reliable information about the use of Telegram by the suicide bomber, his accomplices and their mastermind overseas to hide their criminal plans", the FSB said in a statement. In case Telegram does not provide this data in due time, the messenger will be blocked in Russian Federation until the information is provided.

Three flagship news shows on Russian state television featured reports on Telegram. "If you want to defeat terrorism by blocking stuff, you'll have to block the Internet", Durov said, according to Reuters.

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