Court fined Telegram for refusing to pass information to FSB

The court of the Meshchansky district of Moscow fined Telegram messenger for 800 thousand rubles ($13.900) for refusing to pass information to the Federal Security Service (FSB) for decoding user messages, Interfax reports. Telegram refused to cooperate, and on August 31, Russian authorities sent a notification announcing their intention to penalize the company, a process they started on September 14.

The free instant messaging app, which lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people, has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013. Pavel Durov, the owner of Telegram, claims that the requirement to disclose the data is incompatible with the Russian Constitution.

"We recognize the Telegram Messenger LLP as guilty of committing an administrative offense and therefore impose a fine of 800 thousand rubles", Judge Yulia Danilchik said.

Telegram complied with a law requiring it to register with a government database in June, but stopped short of adhering to data-storage or decryption rules.

Is there a limit to a state's control over users' data?

The founder of Telegram stated that his company would refuse to comply with the "unconstitutional and technically impossible" Yarovaya Law "and store users' correspondence on servers in Russian Federation".

Asked about a potential block of the service, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "As far as I know... there is no discussion of a block at this time".

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