Russia’s decision to lift its two-year ban on Telegram will mark the beginning of a broader movement to protect privacy-centric applications such as Telegram, says the company’s CEO.
Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, issued a statement in response to Russian authorities who officially ended the ban on the country’s messaging application last week.
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Telegram’s progress in Russia will help other countries
In a June 21 Telegram post, Durov said the company will not rest on its laurels, and is planning more efforts to support Telegram in other countries such as China and Iran. According to Durov, the Telegram team has already begun work on anti-censorship tools in some countries that have banned the application:
„We have decided to direct our anti-censorship resources to other places where governments continue to ban Telegram, such as Iran and China. We are asking the administrators of the former proxy servers to focus their efforts on these countries.
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„In short, the ban didn’t work.“
Russia’s telecommunications control body, Roskomnadzor, began blocking Telegram in the country in April 2018. However, the application Bitcoin Investor remained accessible to users in Russia because the Telegram team actively resisted the ban through the rotation of proxy servers and the use of other anti-censorship tools.
„In short, the ban did not work,“ said Telegram’s chief executive officer, noting that Telegram’s user base in Russia has doubled since 2018.
Telegram’s efforts to keep the application intact in Russia have marked the establishment of a decentralized movement called „Digital Resistance. It is thanks to the Digital Resistance that, after May 2018, Telegram remained largely accessible in Russia, Durov said, adding
„The Digital Resistance movement does not end with last week’s ceasefire in Russia. It’s just beginning, and it’s going global.“
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China banned Telegram in 2015
Durov’s digital resistance plans in countries like China and Iran may be more challenging than those in Russia. China, one of the most censored countries in the world, banned the use of its territory in 2015 as part of the country’s „great firewall“ policy. The Telegram application is reportedly still accessible in China through VPN tools.
Iran, which is also heavily censored, banned the messaging application in May 2018 amidst street protests across the country. Telegram reportedly had an estimated 40 million users in the country at that time, representing approximately half of its population.
Since official Telegram is banned in Iran, local users created so-called „Telegram forks“, or unofficial Telegram applications. Since they are often vulnerable to major attacks, it is not recommended that official Telegram equipment use these „forks“.