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Messaging app Telegram faces heat from Russian authorities over role in terrorism

26 Juin 2017

He described the relationship between Russian Federation and Telegram as neutral relations.

Backing Russian legislators seeking to curb the anonymous use of encrypted chat apps, the Federal Security Service, Russia's powerful counterterrorism agency, said Monday that terrorists used the encrypted messenger app Telegram to plan the April bombing of the St. Petersburg metro that killed 15 people, including the bomber.

"During the operational participation in the investigation into the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg underground on April 3, the FSB has obtained credible information that the suicide bomber, his fellows and a foreign supervisor had used Telegram messenger to hide their criminal plot at all stages of the preparation for the terrorist attack", the FSB statement said. It has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013.

The FSB charged that "the members of the worldwide terrorist organisations on Russian territory use Telegram".

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The statement came as Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, moved forward on several laws targeting anonymity on the Russian segment of the Internet, including a ban on the use of virtual private networks that mask IP addresses.

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. 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. He also called the possible restriction of Telegram "paradoxical", objecting that the Russian government doesn't block WhatsApp and Facebook which are Amercian companies.

Draft legislation that has already secured initial backing in parliament would make it illegal for messaging services to have anonymous users.

Messaging app Telegram faces heat from Russian authorities over role in terrorism