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Russian court turns down Telegram users’ appeal

May 22, 2018, 17:15 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Moscow City Court has denied the appeal filed by 35 users of the messaging service, a TASS source stated

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© Sergei Konkov/TASS

MOSCOW, May 22. Moscow City Court has denied the appeal made by Telegram [cloud-based instant messaging service] users in relation to the court’s refusal to accept their collective claim to deem the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) actions illegal, the court informed TASS on Tuesday. The FSB insists that Telegram should provide encryption keys necessary to decrypt users’ messages.

"The Moscow City Court has denied the appeal filed by 35 users of the messaging service," a TASS source stated.

Earlier, the Meshchansky district court in Moscow refused to accept the claim made by 35 Telegram users, in which they asked the court to deem the FSB’s actions illegal. The Federal Security Service demanded that the Telegram Messenger Limited Liability Partnership (Telegram Messenger LLP) company turn over information necessary to decrypt the messages of all users. The plaintiffs also asked the court to withdraw this request.

According to the court’s position, these actions do not suggest any violation of the rights and freedoms of the claimants.

Telegram vs. the FSB

On March 20, 2018, Russia’s Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit by Telegram Messenger LLP on declaring invalid the FSB’s order, which establishes the procedure of furnishing decryption keys. According to the company, the security agency had no powers to issue such an order as it runs counter to the law demanding a court ruling for access to users’ messages.

In October 2017, a Moscow court slapped an 800,000-ruble (about $13,000) fine on Telegram over its refusal to meet the FSB’s demand. Despite the company’s attempt to appeal the decision, the fine was upheld as legal.

On April 13, Moscow’s Tagansky Court satisfied the claim of Russia’s media watchdog (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) to block access to the Telegram instant messaging service in Russia due to its failure to provide keys for decrypting users’ messages to the FSB. On April 16, communication providers embarked on enacting the blocking procedures. On June 14, the Moscow City Court will consider the appeal on the messenger’s block.

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