Telegram Founder To Fund $1M To Proxy Servers, VPN Services After Russia Bans The Messenger
April 20th, 2018
Russian authorities imposed censorship on more than 16 million IP addresses to ban messenger website Telegram as they refused to decrypt private information to the government. Several Russian politicians and officials have openly criticised the ban. According to the app data, Several Kremlin officials had continued to sign in on Tuesday evening, days after a court ordered the service to be blocked after it refused to hand over its encryption keys to state security agencies like the FSB as reported by The Telegraph.
Pavel Durov, co-founder of the messenger service, Telegram, announced that he would fund $1 million of his funds over the course of a year in Bitcoin grants to the administrators of proxy and VPN services that allow Internet users in Russia to access Telegram. This statement was made shortly after Roskomnadzor, Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, ordered Russian ISPs to start blocking access to the instant messenger on April 16. According to Meduza, a Russian news platform, Durov also stated that “although Russia accounts for less than seven percent of Telegram’s total user base, it is important to him that the messenger “does everything it can for its Russian users.” In a separate note, he thanked Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft “for not taking part in political censorship”.
Subsequently, Russia is blocking IPs from Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud servers. It is reported that more than 15 million IPs have been blocked.
Aleksandr Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, told The Bell, an independent Russian business outlet, “Telegram’s degradation is now at 30%”. With the support of Russia’s federal security service (FSB), Roskomnadzor banned millions of IP addresses, used by both Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, the hosting sites that Telegram switched to over the weekend to help circumvent the ban. Amazon and Google are yet to comment on this.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, tweeted in support of Pavel Durov and Telegram, quoting that Durov’s response to the Russian government’s totalitarian demand for backdoor access to private communications – refusal and resistance – is the only moral response, and shows real leadership.
I have criticized @telegram's security model in the past, but @Durov's response to the Russian government's totalitarian demand for backdoor access to private communications—refusal and resistance—is the only moral response, and shows real leadership. https://t.co/KtZDpu33wh
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 17, 2018
The ban has reportedly affected several Russian companies like Odnoklassniki, the Viber messenger app, an online English language school, a courier service and others, which experienced outages.
Russia is not the first government to introduce censorship and ban on Telegram. Reports show that earlier in 2017 government bodies in Iran, Indonesia, China, Pakistan and Bahrain had utterly banned Telegram for not complying with their censorship regulations and citing anti-government concerns.
Pavel Durov along with his brother Nikolai Durov co-founded and launched Telegram in 2013. On Tuesday Pavel wrote on messenger, “We promised our users 100 percent privacy and would rather cease to exist than violate this”. As of Tuesday, Telegram remained functional and said it had gained hundreds of thousands of new users. Sarkis Darbinyan, a lawyer for the internet freedom group RosKom Svoboda, told The Telegraph that Russian authorities are trying to gain total control of private communications and are forcing all international social media players to abide by rules of their censorship, resisting which, they will be blocked.