By Bryan Lynn
16 April, 2018

Russia has begun enforcing a nationwide ban on the popular messaging service Telegram.

A Russian government agency said on Monday that it had sent a notice to telecommunications providers to block Telegram. The order came from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media.

Last Friday, a Russian court ruled against the messaging service. The court said Telegram should be blocked until it obeys a government order to provide users' encrypted messages to the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russian officials have said they need to read the messages to investigate the use of Telegram by violent extremist groups.

Telegram has repeatedly refused to surrender access to messages, arguing this would violate its users' privacy.

The service is the creation of Russian businessman Pavel Durov, who criticized the ban Monday in a statement on social media.

"We consider the decision to block the app to be unconstitutional and we will continue," he said.

The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Durov added that the ban will only hurt the quality of life for 15 million Russian users, and not do anything to improve security. "The terrorist threat in Russia will stay at the same level, because extremists will continue to use encrypted communication channels - in other messengers, or through a VPN," he said.

Durov said last week that Telegram had "built-in" features so people could continue using the service during the government's ban.

In addition to being popular with the Russian public, Telegram has also become the messaging app of choice for many government officials.

For example, it has been used in the past to set up conference calls between officials and reporters. But on Monday, the Russia spokesman's office said it will now start using a different app.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

access n. way of getting near something

encrypted adj. having electronic information changed into a secret system of letters, numbers or symbols to hide its meaning

app n. computer program that performs a special function

channel n. way of communicating with people or getting something done

VPN n. short for Virtual Private Network, a private computer network within a larger system, such as the internet

feature n. an interesting part or quality of something