UPDATE 3: Com service files suit to limit access to Telegram in Russia
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MOSCOW/KAZAN, Apr 6 (PRIME) – The Russian communications watchdog has filed a lawsuit to a Moscow district court to “limit access to information resources of Telegram,” the authority said on Friday in a statement.
The lawsuit was submitted on the basis of a law on information, information technologies and information protection, the service said.
A court spokesperson said the Tagansky District Court of Moscow had received the lawsuit. “No proceeding decisions have been made so far on the matter. The suit was handed to a judge for consideration,” the spokesperson said.
More information on the case will be released during a few coming days.
The period of 15 days given by the communications service to Telegram to provide the Federal Security Service with the keys to decipher users’ messages expired on Wednesday. The messenger said the order cannot be fulfilled technically.
The Supreme Court said on Thursday it had sent copies of its decision obliging Telegram to submit the decoding keys to the security service to the lawyers of the popular messenger.
Telegram’s lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliyev said the messenger has not received the lawsuit.
“We have not seen the lawsuit yet and are unaware of the provisions referred to by the communications service or in what order the lawsuit will be considered. As soon as we get the lawsuit we’ll be able to understand how much time its consideration will take and decide on protection,” Akhmetgaliyev told PRIME.
The lawyer did not say whether the Tagansky District Court of Moscow will consider the service’s lawsuit prior to the decision of the Supreme Court takes effect or not. “I don’t know if the communications service ties its requirements to this lawsuit or not,” he said.
Telegram’s position in its dispute with Russia remains unchanged, and the messenger finds requirements illegal, Telegram’s other lawyer Pavel Chikov said in a Telegram post.
“Demands of the Federal Security Service to provide access to private correspondence of users are unconstitutional, are not based on the law, are technically and legally unfeasible. It follows that the requirement of blocking is also unjustified,” the lawyers said.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin finds Telegram convenient and uses it, but will look for an alternative if the messenger is blocked.
“You know there are many messengers. Telegram is very convenient, really, we use it, including for communication with journalists. It will be sad if no consensus is found, which is the case so far as we see it,” Peskov told reporters.
“The law is a law. If it is followed and measures are applied, we’ll look for an alternative that will suit our requests best.”
Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said that a court decision should be waited for, while everyone should respect the law.
“There are no comments but that we should wait for the decision. I spoke about it yesterday that such matters should be tacked through court action. A court decision will be the grounds for further actions,” Nikiforov told reporters.
The Telegram topic is excessively paid attention to by mass media, he added.
“As a matter of fact those messengers that have not submitted information for the register of information distribution should think hard. There are more questions and I think that we and mass media, among others, are paying much more attention to this issue than it should be done. It is a problematic zone, and serious decisions are ahead,” Nikiforov said, adding that messengers WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook have not provided their information for the register yet.
Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev said he is ready to initiate the elaboration of amendments to the law obliging organizers of information distribution, including messengers, to share their encoding keys.
“The messenger is really unable technologically to fulfil requirements…Maybe, amendments to the law will be initiated within this case,” Marinichev said.