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Russia gives up on trying to block Telegram, will just let it do its thing

After two years of an official ban that pretty much did jack squat, the Telegram Russia ban is now over.

Published onJune 18, 2020

The Telegram icon on an HONOR View 20 on a blue background with a cat and a fish.
Scott Adam Gordon / Android Authority
  • After two years, the Telegram Russia ban is now finished.
  • Despite the ban, the app has flourished in Russia. The lack of efficacy there is probably why the ban is getting removed.
  • Telegram has also been an essential tool for assistance in spreading COVID-19 news in the country.

Two years ago, Russia instituted a ban on the privacy-centric messaging app Telegram. Today, the Telegram Russia ban is officially done (via Reuters), which means Russian citizens can feel free to use it as they see fit.

Of course, the lifting of the ban won’t change much for most people, as Telegram has thrived in Russia over the past two years. As much as Russian officials wanted to believe they could stifle the app’s usage, it simply couldn’t keep it down.

Related: What is Telegram and why should I use it?

Regardless, if there were any fears of using the officially-banned app, there’s no need for that now. Telegram is in Russia to stay.

Why was there a Telegram Russia ban?

Two years ago in April, Russian officials demanded that Telegram hand over its encryption keys. The country was concerned that Telegram’s Russian users would utilize the app for nefarious purposes and wanted the ability to investigate any conversations, regardless of encryption.

Telegram’s creator — Pavel Durov, who is Russian — adamantly refused the order. He argued that the privacy of Telegram’s users is paramount. Russia then threatened to ban the app if he didn’t comply, even going so far as to tell Google to remove it from the Russian version of the Play Store. Still, Durov refused.

Best alternative messaging apps to WhatsApp
A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone.

Thus, the Telegram Russia ban began. However, as stated earlier, the ban was practically unenforceable and Russians have been using the app in droves over the past two years despite the ban.

A Russian official told Reuters that the ban was lifted because Durov agreed to work with the government on legal matters related to the app. However, it’s far more likely that the government simply gave up on its fruitless cause. Durov hasn’t issued any statement on the news.

In recent months, Telegram has been especially helpful in Russia for helping spread factual COVID-19 news. This may also have been part of the reason the country lifted the ban.

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