Worldwide famous messenger Telegram has finally asserted its rights to confidentiality after the controversy caused by some of the claims put forward by Russian authorities. To everyone's surprise, the wide-ranging coverage of the scandal provoked in the mass media only boosted the popularity of this online service and almost doubled the number of downloads.
By the end of June, the Internet community, RU net in particular (the Russian-language community on the Internet and websites), was swayed by the fact that Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media of the Russian Federation) informed about its plans to block Telegram in Russia for its non-compliance with Russian legislation that could lead to potential terroristic threat.
User-friendly interface and complete confidentiality of message exchange via various channels of this service became at risk of being irreversibly prohibited in the Russian Federation.
Among the claims put forward by the Russian authorities were demands to host servers in Russia, to store all the data regarding messages and participants of the correspondence during a year time, to provide information to law-enforcement authorities upon demand, and the last but not least, to decipher protective software codes used to encipher messages.
After the formal announcement about the upcoming blocking, Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram service, refused to comply with demands of Russian authorities explaining his decision by corporate confidentiality policies, though expressed his willingness to remain on the Russian market.
Registry of Information-Dissemination Organizers as a key to the problem
Telegram turned practically into the only existing way of confidential and independent communication for thousands of users in Russia. The rest of services were forced to cooperate with the authorities and obey senseless demands under the threat of being blocked.
In order to overcome prohibitions, one should register in the Russian Registry of Information -Dissemination Organizers. This register already contains data concerning 85 IT companies including 10 foreign enterprises. The process of registration includes provision of information about the public profile of the company. However, nothing is said about obligatory provision of confidential information or code deciphering. So, Durov took his chance to register Telegram in the national register of the Russian Federation.
This procedure was very instrumental in the process of overcoming blocking. Moreover, this kind of controversy contributed to higher popularity of the messenger, because more users found out about this type of confidential means of communication. Telegram turned into a record breaker in terms of its popularity outstripping such services as WhatsApp and applications of the same kind.
Just in one week Telegram soared from its 15th position in the AppStore up to the 1st . As for
Play Market, Telegram automatically moved from the 31st position to the 14th. The same kind of situation is seen on the rest of resources providing free applications for mobile devices based on Android and iOS.
Loss of the Russian market for Telegram doesn’t seem critical: only 5 million of citizens of the Russian Federation out of 100 million use this application. Though Durov’s adherence to his principles complemented by experience of an immigrant who faced all the restrictions of Russian Internet censure played an important role.
How to act when your site was blocked, read our blog How to avoid blocking by Roskimnadzor.