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The encrypted messaging app Telegram continues to have a tough time in Russia. Having previously been threatened with blockage for not providing operational information, Telegram has now been hit with a significant fine – and ordered to hand over the encryption keys that led to the fine in the first place.
Early on Monday, a court in Moscow’s Meshchansky district ordered Telegram to pay a fine of 800,000 rubles (around $14,000) for refusing to give the FSB state security agency the keys to decrypt users’ correspondence. The so-called Yarovaya law – a package of anti-terrorism measures that was passed last year – requires the providers of messaging services to give the FSB access to users’ encrypted communications.
According to an Interfax report, the FSB asked Telegram in July for information about six phone numbers, but Telegram did not respond.
Telegram chief Pavel Durov, who is also well-known as the founder of the popular Russian social network VK, insists that the Yarovaya law is itself not legally valid. In a Monday post on VK, Durov said the FSB’s requirements are at odds with Article 23 of the Russian Federation’s constitution, which promises people that they have the right to privacy of correspondence and other communications.
Durov said Telegram will appeal the ruling “until the FSB lawsuit is heard by a judge familiar with the basic law of Russia.” He also requested that lawyers who might want to take on the case should get in touch, as he will put together a legal team in the next couple of days to fight the case.
So what happened with that operational information that could have led to Telegram’s blockage? In that case, Durov