Encrypted Messenger Telegram said Monday that it was stepping up efforts to develop anti-censorship technologies to serve users in countries where it is banned or partially blocked, including China and Iran.
“Over the past two years, we had to regularly update our“ unlocking ”technology to get ahead of the censors … We do not want this technology to become rusty and outdated. That’s why we decided to channel our resources against censorship to other places where Telegram is still banned by governments – to places like Iran and China, ”said co-founder and CEO Pavel Durov, who lived in Russia for many years before taking up self-education. exile, sent on his personal Telegram channel on Monday.
The promise markedly followed the decision of the Russian government remove the ban on Telegram last week. The application has produced impressive growth in Russia even after officially banned in the country in 2018 due to a refusal to transfer encryption keys to authorities, which will then have access to user content. The restriction prompted the company to launch “Digital resistance” an initiative that would provide users with anti-lock tools.
As a result, Telegram for several weeks resumed access to most of the territory of Russia, and since then this ban has remained ambiguous. Monthly active users doubled 400 million in May since 2018, 30 million from Russia.
Despite its popularity, the application is in limbo as it deals with dissatisfied investors who invest a lot of money in the company’s ambitious blockchain platform, Telegram Open Network, which stopped abruptly in May.
It is not clear why Russia suddenly decided to change course on Telegram. In a statement from Roskomnadzor, the telecommunications agency that originally ordered the ban, said The decision was made after it assessed “the willingness expressed by the founder of Telegram to counter terrorism and extremism.”
This inevitably raised questions about the concession that Telegram made to the Russian state. Durov stressed that his company uses advanced mechanisms to detect and prevent terrorist acts without compromising user privacy, the very spirit of Telegram. Time will show how an application can perform two complex tasks that are widely regarded as mutually exclusive.
The government may also have a motive to unblock Telegram, which is especially popular among Russian youth, like constitutional vote This could extend Putin’s rule next month.
Many users in countries where Telegram is not available, for example, in China, run the application with virtual private networks (VPN) or other proxy servers. The application has become a haven for Chinese users to exchange and discuss information censored by the authorities.
For example, after Beijing suppressed bitcoins in 2017, traders flocked to Telegram and other encrypted messengers that were not available to the Chinese government. Earlier this year, many Chinese citizens, trying to clarify the situation with coronavirus, went around the Big Firewall to join Telegram channels supported by volunteers sharing hourly virus updates. One of the largest Chinese channels dedicated to COVID-19, has gathered more than 85,000 subscribers.