Supreme Court rejects Telegram’s appeal over FSB’s demands to access users messages

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld demands from the Federal Security Service (FSB) that Telegram provide encryption keys to access the content of user messages, the Interfax news agency reported this morning.

Confirmed previous legal decisions, the Supreme Court, in particular, has supported an FSB argument which establishes a distinction between receiving the means to decipher encoded content, and receiving access to the content itself.

Thus, handling over the encryption keys to the secret service “only creates the organizational basis for accessing the information,”  without entailing any violation of Russian citizens’ constitutional right to secrecy of correspondence.

Adopted in 2016, a new Russian legislation (dubbed ‘Yarovaya law’ or ‘Big Brother law’) requires messenger apps and other “organizers of information distribution” to add additional coding to transmitted electronic messages so that the the FSB can decipher them.

Telegram agreed to register its service in Russia, but refused to cooperate with the secret service under “laws incompatible with Telegram’s privacy policy.”

In April 2018, a Moscow court ruled to block “immediately” access to the instant messenger from Russia, following Telegram’s refusal to provide the encryption keys to the FSB. The trial lasted less than 20 minutes, according to media reports. It took place in the absence of Telegram’s defense team, with Telegram founder Pavel Durov refusing to “legitimize” with their presence what he considers to be “an open farce.”

As a consequence of the April court decision, Roskomnadzor, the Russian Internet and telecom regulator, tried to block access to the service in Russia. These attempts have been little successful so far, but caused substantial damages to a number of businesses, including online services which had no relation to Telegram.

See the full scoop over at East-West Digital News: