Russia's federal censor blocks millions of IP addresses in crackdown on Telegram, disrupting Internet services across the country
On the morning of April 16, Russia’s federal censor ordered Russian ISPs to start blocking access to the instant messenger Telegram. At first, Roskomnadzor ordered Internet providers to cut service only to Telegram’s own IP addresses. Soon, however, the government also banned hundreds of thousands of IP addresses belonging to Amazon’s cloud service, which Telegram was using to circumvent Russia’s block. Roskomnadzor later blocked more than a million IP addresses in Google’s cloud service, as well. Now there’s even a special website dedicated to tracking how many IP addresses Roskomnadzor blocks in its battle with proxy servers. (Note: at the time of this writing, the total number of blocked IP addresses was almost 16 million.)
So far, Telegram is still accessible to many users in Russia, though other websites have suffered outages, suffering collateral damage in Roskomnadzor’s hunting efforts. The radio station Govorit Moskva, for example, said its website was temporarily inaccessible because of traffic routing problems caused when ISPs started blocking one of the subnets it uses. The messenger Viber, the social network Odnoklassniki, and several ewallet services have also experienced technical difficulties.
On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor even launched a special “hotline,” which people can call to report the accidental blocking of “innocent online resources.” The agency also complained about “unverified reports” that its crackdown on millions of IP addresses has inadvertently cut off access to various websites and services unrelated to Telegram. (At the time of this writing, Roskomnadzor's hotline was inaccessible — possibly due to the reported DDoS attacks against the agency.)
Can people still download Telegram? Yes, but on April 17 Roskomnadzor formally ordered Apple and Google to remove Telegram from their app stores in Russia. At the time of this writing, neither company had complied.
Russia’s federal censor has reportedly started notifying the owners of various proxy servers that they will be blocked in Russia, if they refuse to cut access to the instant messenger Telegram, according to Pavel Chikov, a lawyer for the “Agora” human rights group, which has represented Telegram in Russian court.