A court in Russia ordered a block of messaging app Telegram this week but founder Pavel Durov has shrugged off the impact of the ban 24 hours in — claiming the app hasn’t seen “a significant drop in user engagement so far”. Russia began (trying to) block Telegram yesterday, following a court ruling in Moscow earlier this week. The state communication watchdog had filed a lawsuit to limit access to the service after Telegram refused to hand over encryption keys — and the court granted the block. In an update posted to his Telegram channel, Durov writes: “For the last 24 hours Telegram has been under a ban by internet providers in Russia. The reason is our refusal to provide encryption keys to Russian security agencies. For us, this was an easy decision. We promised our users 100% privacy and would rather cease to exist than violate this promise. “Despite the ban, we haven’t seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there.” Durov goes on to thank Telegram users in Russia for their support — saying the country accounts for about 7% of the app’s user base. (Last month Telegram announced passing 200M monthly active users, which suggests it has about 14M users in Russia.) He also name-checks four U.S. tech giants — Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft — for, as he puts it, “not taking part in political censorship”. Telegram moved some of its infrastructure to third-party cloud services to try to make it harder for authorities to block access to its app. But the Russian state responded by blocking millions of IP addresses belonging to Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud, apparently causing collateral damage to swathes of other digitally delivered services. (Even reportedly to some credit card terminals.) In an attempt to ban Telegram, Russian ISPs have been required by court order to block 52.58.0.0/15, 18.196.0.0/15, 18.194.0.0/15, 35.156.0.0/14 35.192.0.0/12 – it’s like a million IPs belonging to AWS and Google Cloud. Just tried a Russia VPN, telegram still usually connects — Kevin Beaumont (@GossiTheDog) April 17, 2018 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js So how long those other tech companies stand firm remains to be seen. In some cases direct political pressure —  not just the collateral damage of service disruption — appears to be being being…

Source: TechCrunch – Social Telegram plays down Russian block — claiming no “significant” impact yet