Telegram, the ICO led social messaging app is current banned in Russia, although according to reports, this ban could soon be overturned if the company agree to share their encryption keys with law enforcement authorities in Russia. This comes as the Federal Security Service (FSB) have decided that they need to access encrypted messages in order to combat terrorism, though we can question if Telegram really is the arena of choice for terrorist communications.
According to CCN:
“Russia’s telecommunications watchdog said that it will consider reversing the ban on messaging service Telegram if the company submits to a court order requiring it to share its encryption keys with federal law enforcement. Russia-based news outlet RT reports that Roscomnadzor (RKN), which began blocking local access to Telegram after the company refused to comply with that court order, said that it will rescind the ban once Telegram makes its encryption keys available to the Federal Security Service (FSB), which alleges that it needs the ability to decrypt messages to fight terrorism.”
Moreover, Paval Chikov, a lawyer representing Telegram has said:
“[Telegram] never denied that the authorities have a right and even an obligation to fight terrorism. On the contrary, we suggested the only civilized way to do it – a court order in exchange for a disclosure. A disclosure not of the content of the messages even, but only of an IP address or a telephone number. The balance must be found between national security and privacy.”
Now of course, security forces do have a right to locate and monitor terrorist communications, but this does not mean they also have the right to monitor every communication method on the off chance they find a terrorist. If anything, this is just a plot to gain control of an area the authorities cannot control. If Telegram do decide to go ahead with this (which I doubt they will) people who are worried about intervention from authorities will just move elsewhere. Telegram are right in saying that a balance must be found between national security and privacy, and it seems that actually giving away encryption keys is not representative of this.