Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Telegram May Have Been Used In Russia Bombing Says FSB

Russia says Telegram app used in Saint Petersburg attack Russia says Telegram app used in Saint Petersburg attack
Melinda Barton | 27 June, 2017, 07:55

Russian Federation is poised to block the highly encrypted Telegram messaging system, claiming it was used by terrorists behind the St Petersburg metro attack in April in which 15 people died.

General view of emergency services attending the scene outside Sennaya Ploshchad metro station, following explosions in two train carriages in St Petersburg April 3, 2017. "Telegram shall be blocked in Russian Federation until we receive the needed information".

Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor said on Friday it would block Telegram unless it handed over information about the company that controlled Telegram, something it said Telegram had so far refused to do.

Fifteen people were killed in the suicide bombing, which was claimed by the little-known Imam Shamil Battalion, a group suspected of links to al-Qaeda. If Telegram was banned, Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman and an avid Telegram user, said he and other officials would switch to another service.Durov said the communications regulator's demands violated Russians' constitutional right to keep their correspondence secret and were also technically impossible to comply with. Telegram allows groups of up to 5,000 people to send messages, documents, videos and pictures without charge and with complete encryption. He was dubbed "Russia's Mark Zuckerberg" after he founded the Russian equivalent of Facebook, the social network VK, which quickly gained 350 million users.

The FSB's announcement follows a public row between the head of Roskomnadzor, Russia's media watchdog, and Telegram founder Pavel Durov. Once on the list, it would have to store information about its users on Russian servers and hand over user information to the authorities on request.

The 32-year-old had previously created Russia's popular VKontakte social media site, before founding Telegram in the United States. Durov, at the time of the attacks, had said that the application had consistently "protected" user privacy and would not "make deals with any government".

But the service has drawn the ire of critics who say it can let criminals and terrorists communicate without fear of being tracked by police, pointing in particular to its use by Islamic State jihadists. While launched with the idea of making it very hard for governments to spy on its users-Telegram allows heavy encryption of its messages-the app is also popular among terrorists, according to reports.