Russian Ministry objects to Telegram ban lift as TON spins off

A Russian ministry has opposed a proposal to lift the ban on instant messaging app Telegram in the country. The country’s federal assembly, better known as the State Duma, had proposed lifting the ban for easier dissemination of COVID-19 information.

In its proposal to lift the ban, the State Duma claimed that Telegram has become a crucial tool for many authorities in raising awareness about COVID-19. These authorities are using Telegram to share information on how to mitigate the pandemic, it stated.

However, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media is having none of it. According to a report by Russian outlet Interfax, the Ministry argues that Russia already has established official communication channels. The distribution of information via the Internet in Russia is already streamlined, it claimed.

The Russian laws on information require state bodies and local authorities to have official websites through which they can distribute information, the Ministry claimed. As such, the country doesn’t need to make any changes to the existing laws, even in the face of coronavirus.

Despite wanting the ban upheld, the Ministry believes that Telegram can resume services if it agrees to work with the government. This would mean handing the government its encryption keys, the Ministry told Interfax. In doing so, it would allow the government to access the users’ encrypted messages, something Telegram has refused to do in the past.

Elsewhere, after Telegram terminated its involvement, the TON blockchain project is officially spinning off. Known as the Telegram Open Project for the past two years, it has now changed its name to ‘The Open Project.’

This happens after Telegram finally cut ties with the controversial project. A month ago, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov announced that his company had terminated its involvement in the project. And with its recent withdrawal of an appeal against the freezing of its GRAM token issuance, Telegram seems to have fully abandoned the $1.7 billion project.

The changing of the name was to take place and had been planned before TON’s launch. In its whitepaper in 2018, Telegram stated that it will develop the project only for three years. After this, “TON will then let go of the “Telegram” element in its name and become “The Open Network”. From then on, the continuous evolution of the TON Blockchain will be maintained by the TON Foundation.”

The transition is bound to cause some confusion, however, due to the emergence of other affiliated projects. Already, there are two projects that are using the TON brand, but which aren’t related to Telegram. The two, Free TON and NewTON, claim to be relying on the same technology as the original project.  

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