Skip to main content

Telegram founder says anti-censorship tech that defeated Russian authorities should be used against Iran and China

Source: Pavel Durov

Pavel Durov, the founder of the instant messenger Telegram, is calling on proxy-server administrators that supported his platform’s successful circumvention of censorship in Russia to focus their efforts now on Iran and China, where the service is still blocked.

“The Digital Resistance movement doesn’t end with last week’s ceasefire in Russia. It is just getting started — and going global,” Durov wrote in his English-language Telegram channel, warning that growing “unpredictability” in the global “political situation” poses new challenges for “privacy-focused apps like Telegram.” 

Durov says Telegram was forced to upgrade its “unblocking” technology to stay ahead of Russian censors. “We don’t want this technology to get rusty and obsolete. That is why we have decided to direct our anti-censorship resources into other places where Telegram is still banned by governments — places like Iran and China,” he said. 

On June 18, 2020, Russia’s federal censor (Roskomnadzor) lifted restrictions on access to Telegram first imposed in April 2018 after the platform refused to hand over encryption keys to federal agents in accordance with anti-terrorism regulations. Despite the government’s efforts, Telegram remained widely accessible to Russians throughout the time it was technically “blocked.” The Russian government’s policy change comes a few months after new leadership took over at Roskomnadzor.