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Russian federal agents have ordered Telegram to decipher all your correspondence
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has sent an official request to the instant messenger Telegram demanding that the network decipher all user correspondence in accordance with the so-called Yarovaya laws, according to Telegram founder Pavel Durov.
Durov published photos of official FSB documents dated September 14, showing administrative charges against Telegram for failing to comply with the law. The FSB’s letter indicates that it first issued its demands to Telegram on July 14 (two weeks after the messenger was added to the Russian government’s registry of “information distribution organizers”), and given five days to comply. Telegram says it only received the email on July 21 — two days after the FSB's deadline.
As a result, Telegram (a London-registered legal entity) was found to be in violation of Russian Administrative Code Article 13.31, which carries fines as high as a million rubles ($17,180).
Durov says the charges will “inevitably lead to litigation,” though he says he “lacks the opportunity” to set foot in Russia.
Durov published the FSB’s letter and revealed the administrative charges against Telegram shortly after journalists learned about criminal charges against him in Iran, where he’s accused of allowing terrorists to communicate over Telegram. Durov says Telegram is constantly blocking banned content at the request of governments, but he insists that the network will never hand over “a single byte of personal data.”
Russian lawmakers introduced requirements to decypher communications for the FSB in the summer of 2016, with the passage of “anti-terrorist” laws authored by State Duma deputy Irina Yarovaya and Senator Viktor Ozerov. These laws also require “information-distribution organizers” to archive personal correspondence and make it accessible to Russian law enforcement.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal censor, added Telegram to the government’s registry earlier this year, after threatening to block the service. All that’s needed for this registration process is a company’s public contact information and general business description, which Durov provided, while insisting that Telegram would not comply with the demands of the Yarovaya laws.
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