Europe

Protesters demand Russia stop blocking Telegram messenger app

People hold a banner reading "Hands off the Internet" during a rally in protest against court decision to block the Telegram messenger because it violated Russian regulations, in Moscow

People hold a banner reading “Hands off the Internet” during a rally in protest against court decision to block the Telegram messenger because it violated Russian regulations, in Moscow, Russia May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Hundreds of people rallied in Moscow on Sunday to demand the unblocking of the Telegram app, the second protest in the Russian capital since the authorities blocked the popular messaging service last month.

Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans and brandished signs carrying messages against internet censorship. Some tossed paper planes in the air, symbolizing Telegram’s logo.

“The authorities want to take away our secret messages, our private lives,” opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov told demonstrators. “The internet is the main freedom that exists for all of us. We cannot let that happen.”

Telegram was blocked on April 16 on orders from state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, after refusing to grant Russian state security access to its users’ encrypted messages.

“Down with Roskomnadzor!” protesters chanted.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has said it needs such access to guard against security threats such as terrorist attacks. But Telegram has said compliance with the order would constitute a violation of users’ privacy.

In the process of blocking the app, Roskomnadzor also cut off access to a slew of other websites.

Some 20 people were detained at the rally, according to OVD-Info human rights monitor.

A similar protest in support of Telegram drew thousands of people to the streets of Moscow last month.

Telegram is widely used in countries across the former Soviet Union and Middle East. Telegram founder Pavel Durov, a pioneer of Russian social media, said last month that Russians account for about 7 percent of its users.

Some Telegram users have circumvented the block by using virtual private networks, which make it seem as though they were accessing the internet from another country.

Iran last month also blocked Telegram in a bid to safeguard national security.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Edmund Blair)

 

Advertisements

Categories: Europe, News Wire, World News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s