UPDATE 3: Russian watchdog lifts ban on access to messenger Telegram
(Adds comments in paragraph 6)
MOSCOW/VIENNA, Jun 18 (PRIME) -- The Russian communications service has lifted requirements to limit access to messenger Telegram upon an agreement with the Prosecutor General’s Office, the regulator said on Thursday in a statement.
“We welcome the readiness voiced by Telegram’s founder (Pavel Durov) to resist terrorism and extremism,” the watchdog said.
The communications service put Telegram on the register of organizers of information distribution in July 2017. The messenger had been blocked in the country since April 2018 for its refusal to share decoding keys with the Federal Security Service.
The watchdog said it is ready to cooperate with all Internet companies working in the country to quickly stop expansion of terrorist and extremist information, children’s pornography, propaganda of suicide and drugs.
According to the authority, its efforts united with the leading domestic and foreign Internet companies allow for daily deleting an average of 2,500 materials promoting suicide, 1,300 extremist and terrorist materials, 800 materials on drugs, and 300 materials with pornographic images of minors.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media Harlem Desir said on Twitter, “I welcome (the communications service’s) announcement today to unblock Telegram messenger in #Russia. The blocking of the social network for more than two years was an issue of concern for freedom of expression.”
The president’s special representative for digital and technological development Dmitry Peskov said the watchdog’s move is in the right direction. “We confirm once again the importance of Telegram as a platform for creating advanced technological solutions and its high security for the final user in comparison to analogue U.S. services,” he said.
Authors of a bill seeking to ban muting of Telegram during emergencies are ready to revoke the document if the blocking is actually lifted, one of the initiators, deputy Dmitry Ionin told PRIME and added he finds the watchdog’s decision logical.
Deputy Anton Gorelkin said Telegram could become a site for new media, and the economy of channels’ owners will be more transparent.
Cybersecurity Agency head Yevgeny Lifshits said, “Interestingly enough, the communications service stresses Telegram’s readiness for cooperation in fight against extremism, which means some agreements could have been achieved.”