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Communications Encryption Government Politics

Russia Files Lawsuit To Block Telegram Messaging App (reuters.com) 70

Russia's state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has filed a lawsuit to block Telegram in the country because the instant messaging company has refused to hand over the encryption keys that would allow Russian authorities to read messages sent using the service. From a report: Ranked as the world's ninth most popular mobile messaging app, Telegram is widely used in countries across the former Soviet Union and Middle East. Active users of the app reached 200 million in March. As part of its services, Telegram allows users to communicate via encrypted messages which cannot be read by third parties, including government authorities. But Russia's FSB Federal Security service has said it needs access to some messages for its work, including guarding against terrorist attacks. Telegram has refused to comply with its demands, citing respect for user privacy.
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Russia Files Lawsuit To Block Telegram Messaging App

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @10:42AM (#56392469)

    If a government moves to ban a program because said government can't use it to spy on its users, what more endorsement could you possibly need?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      what more endorsement could you possibly need?

      Roskomnadzor was my fav metal band in the 80s
      I still have many of their cassingles

    • by lfourrier ( 209630 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @11:07AM (#56392597)
      It could be a propaganda operation, to encourage users from others country to migrate to a compromised system.
      Or not.
      But if you have enough paranoia to need some system like that, there is no limit to your untrust.
      • by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @12:13PM (#56392993)

        It could be a propaganda operation, to encourage users from others country to migrate to a compromised system. Or not. But if you have enough paranoia to need some system like that, there is no limit to your untrust.

        In view of the fact that the Putin government is liable to have its thugs shoot you in the head on an open street, season your tea with Polonium 210, coat the door knob of your front door with a nerve agent, or dispose of you in some other way if you say things about Big Vlad and his corrupt posse that they don't like I'm not going to call Russians 'paranoid' for encrypting their communications, it's more like a sensible survival strategy.

    • "Respect for user privacy" is a good answer from Telegram, but I still think the best answer to law enforcement agents asking for keys is: "Sorry, but we don't have those". It's an even better one when those agents start demanding instead of asking.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It has the technology to use ephemeral keys, and any user can do it by enabling a "private conversation."

        HOWEVER, for some reason, this is not done by default. The default settings use Telegram's own key for encryption.

        Telegram should only use ephemeral keys (like Signal). The typical user doesn't know what they're doing or that the default settings can be decrypted by Telegram; they need the defaults to do it right in the first place.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2018 @11:21AM (#56392659)

      what more endorsement could you possibly need?

      Are you kidding? Telegram comes out of this looking relatively insecure and untrustworthy compared to most tech.

      Telegram is refusing to give the Russians access.

      If Telegram worked right, they would be telling the Russians, "We'll totally cooperate and will hand over anything we have. The problem is, we simply do not have the ability to give you access to users' conversations, because the users don't trust us with that."

      Why the fuck would software makers have access to users' data? That's downright weird. Do the authors of Postfix or Dovecot or Thunderbird have access to your emails? Does the makers of Chrome have access to your browsing hist-- shit, bad example. Do the authors of GnuPG and PGP know your passphrase? Can Microsoft access their users' Word/Excel documents?

      Under normal circumstances, pressuring the makers of software to get access to user data shouldn't ever have the possibility of bearing fruit. The only way it can work, is if the software was incompetently (or maliciously) designed.

      • I don't know the exact demands of that Russian regulatory authority but judging from what I've read they seem to want access to the users' data. Unfortunately, anyone who makes software that directly processes such data can provide such access. Not in every country such a demand is lawful, though. I believe it is currently not possible to make the same demand in the continental EU and in the US, not 100% sure about it. But I do know that laws have been proposed to change that and are being discussed again
      • quick run to Putin, i found them, they are in the source code: https://core.telegram.org/mtpr... [telegram.org] ....
        otoh, methinks the fsb will have less success than the us did trying to block the AACS decryption key.

    • Why do you think the Telegram people are able to defy Putin and stay alive in Russia? Cause the FSB already has the keys. This is an advertisement for Telegram by the Russian government. The only question is: is the ad to encourage people to move to Telegram, or to convince the people with Telegram accounts they cannot crack them so they let out more sensitive data?

  • In soviet Russia we block you!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If some company HAS your keys, then you're doing communications wrong.

    No, this isn't good PR for Telegram, because the suit itself proves that Telegram is completely insecure. And they could be forced by the court to openly divulge the keys. (They also might be forced or tricked to divulge the keys in other ways, perhaps unwittingly or secretly, which involve no courts.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fuck Russia. Fuck China. Fuck spying on people.

  • by some old guy ( 674482 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @11:09AM (#56392605)

    It's what they do.

    At least they're glaringly up front about it, unlike the US TLA's relying on phony FISA courts, hardware OEM back doors, and so on to accomplish the same thing.

    Give the Devil his due.

  • Most people who are involved with government agencies are EXTREMELY ignorant about technology. (And most people in general, also.)

    They don't realize that, if there is a back door, a key to decrypt, it will eventually be compromised. A government employee will give the key to someone who shouldn't have it. Or, hackers will eventually discover the key.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am American and I am sick of the anti-Russia bias on liberal Slashdot.Org. Why SHOUDNT Russia have the rights to protect there own people against the threat of things like terrorism attacks? It is no doubt the USA deep state that pushes the idea that only the USA should be authorized to have access to all communications and that is rediculous. First USA and England use FAKE chemical weapon attack to hurt Russian diplomacy and now this. The west should be ashamed of ourselves.

    • It would be nice if "Russia" (whatever that means) actually cared about protecting their own people from terrorist attacks.

      What they actually care about is protecting themselves and staying in power while labeling people who want privacy as terrorists.

  • He left russia a few years back and took on the citizenship of a caribean microcountry in order to continue with Telegram unmolested. IIRC nobody knows his exact whereabouts or the whereabouts of the devteam - probably they're distributed around the planet and living the cyberpunk/diginomad lifestyle, flying under the radar most of the time. It sure takes some guts and wits to stick it to the FSB and other russian three-letter-authorities, you have to hand it to them. Nice job.

    Sidenote: I've been using Telegram for a few years now and really like it. Definitivly up there with Signal and Threema when in comes to worthy WhatsCrap alternatives.

  • Any application which refuses to violate security, even to the face of a government, deserves an award. Governments have to learn they have no right to their people's communication.
  • In Soviet Russia, it's Roskomnadz,or nothing at all!

  • This is just some fake controversy to try to convince more people to use it.

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