The Russian government has finally lifted the ban on encrypted messaging platform Telegram. While lifting the ban, the government claimed that Telegram has been working to stem out the use of its platform by terrorists and extremists.
The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, better known as Roskomnadzor announced the lifting of the ban on June 18. In doing so, it brought to an end a ban that has proven to be ineffective, with Russians turning to VPNs to access the platform.
In its announcement, the Roskomnadzor praised Telegram founder’s efforts to “counter terrorism and extremism.” While the regulator didn’t go into details about how Telegram was fighting terrorism, it echoed similar sentiments expressed by Pavel Durov recently.
In a post on his Telegram channel, the founder and CEO Pavel Durov claimed that the platform has been fighting terrorism earnestly in recent years. Telegram had advanced its methods for detecting and removing extremist propaganda, he revealed. The platform was now stopping tens of thousands of extremist attempts every month.
The Roskomnadzor banned Telegram in 2018. This was after Durov refused to hand the regulator access to the platform’s encrypted secret chats. The regulator claimed that such chats were used by terrorists.
The ban has been quite ineffective, with millions of Russians turning to VPNs to access the platform. Local outlets in Russia have revealed in the past that even high-ranking officials in the government were using Telegram despite the ban.
Moreover, government departments used the platform to spread information regarding the coronavirus. This led the federal assembly to propose a lifting of the ban in May this year. Despite opposition from the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media, the ban has finally been lifted.
In the two years it was banned, Telegram’s user base in Russia grew from 10 million to 30 million. It now has 400 million users globally, double the number of users it had two years ago.
Telegram seems to have won the war and preserved its users’ privacy. As Durov stated in his post, “the fight against terrorism and the right to privacy of personal correspondence do not exclude each other.”
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