Unlocking Telegram

So, the scandalously known and hotly loved by Russian users messenger and eset nod32 keys has been unblocked by the decision of Roskomnadzor. Now it can be used on the territory of the Russian Federation without any proxies or other circumvention options. However, many people did not even notice the restrictions, and despite the two-year ban on the service, they calmly used it. This turned out to be possible thanks to the “blow back” that the creators of the messenger delivered after the blocking, introducing a system of traffic proxying and the Fake TLS technology.

Who unblocked Telegram and why?
Active discussions and proposals to lift the restrictions began in late 2019. Officials and deputies have expressed that it is time to abolish the blocking, reasoning that it is impossible to implement it completely. On June 18, 2020, Roskomnadzor announced that Telegram had been unblocked. The official explanation of the RCN: the owners and developers of the system agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

Official positions and opinions of ordinary users
Officials of the state took a neutral position. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that the authorities take into account both the court decision of April 2018 (which is still in force) and the arguments of Roskomnadzor.

We take note of both the decision itself and Roskomnadzor’s exhaustive arguments. (D. Peskov)

And Chairman of the State Duma Volodin expressed the opinion that court decisions that are technically impossible to implement should be corrected.

If the court makes a decision, then that decision must be enforced. And if that decision is impossible to execute or they can’t execute it, then they must adjust the decisions and make other decisions. (V. Volodin)

The opinions of Runet users are divided. Some are positive about the event, rejoicing that unblocking Telegram will make it more convenient. Others suspect the Durov team that they “sold out to the FSB” and allegedly now privacy is out of the question.

Such statements should not be taken seriously, because Durov has repeatedly said that he will not give government agencies access to personal correspondence, because it is impossible because of the peculiarities of encryption algorithms. It is privacy that Pavel describes as the main and inviolable principle of the system.
There have been no changes regarding preservation of personal data; the right to privacy and confidentiality of personal correspondence remains a fundamental principle of Telegram in all countries. (P. Durov)

Chronology of events
The conflict was brewing long before the trial. In 2014, Durov left Russia and declared that he was not going to return. He continued to work with Telegram while living in the United States. A few years later, the disagreement ceased to be merely political: when the FSB demanded encryption keys in 2018, the company refused. And it did not change its position, despite the fines and injunctions. A court was held, based on its decision, Roskomnadzor banned the service in Russia.

Because of the failures of access to the messenger in the first weeks of the blocking, the number of active users decreased somewhat. But the messenger continued to be used, and the RCN took desperate steps: fan blocking of millions of IPs began. All IPs which the agency suspected could have been used to bypass the ban were shut down without trial. Even Google and Twitter were once blacklisted.

Paul responded to the authorities by calling for protests. There were actions in support of the messenger: an all-Russian flash mob with the launch of paper airplanes and a rally in the capital, which gathered more than 10 thousand participants.

After Durov and the company assured that they had developed a unique and effective mechanism of combating terrorism and extremism, and agreed to cooperate with the Russian law enforcement agencies, Roskomnadzor unblocked Telegram. Pavel again emphasized that the fight against unlawful actions of users and respect for the secrecy of personal correspondence are not mutually exclusive.

Experts: unblocking Telegram is good for both the service and the authorities
The absurdity of the fact that the banned messenger was used by almost all of Russia, including government agencies, is recognized by many experts.
It is an absolutely absurd situation when a service is blocked, but state bodies and ministries are also using it. (S. Darbinyan, lawyer)

Telegram was unblocked, 2020 was the year of reconciliation between Durov and Russian government agencies. Both the authorities, who are now trying to increase public confidence, and Telegram, which is not only a messaging service, but also a major market with multi-million dollar turnovers, are a winner.

Social media reacted to legalization: “Was Telegram blocked? 😀”
Since many users hardly noticed the consequences of the messenger ban, the feedback about Telegram being unblocked in Russia turned out to be mostly sarcastic. Users were surprised: it turns out that they had been using the forbidden service for two years, and joked that the removal of restrictions will now certainly require additional funds from the budget. Many Internet users called on mobile operators to hurry up with the inclusion of the messenger in the list of applications with free traffic.

Telegram’s future in the Russian Federation
Telegram was unblocked, 2020 marked a change for millions of users. However, Durov immediately announced that the “digital resistance” does not end there, he will work to ensure that the service can be used worldwide (in particular, in China, where its use is prohibited).
We decided to send our anti-censorship resources to other places where Telegram is still banned by governments – places like Iran and China. We are asking administrators of former proxy servers for Russian users to focus their efforts on these countries. (P. Durov)

Telegram was and remains the most advanced and secure platform. And it is it, being unblocked and legalized, that is now becoming the main contender for leading positions in the media and IT market.