Russia announced lifting restrictions on the use of the Telegram messenger app that was officially blocked in the country since April 2018 when the company didn't agree to provide security services with backdoor encryption keys.

The country's federal media watchdog Roskomnadzor, in a surprise announcement on Thursday, cited Telegram founder Pavel Durov's statement, that he was ready "to counter-terrorism and extremism," The Moscow Times reported.

Unsuccessful Ban

Telegram
Telegram cyber attack Pixabay

However, Russian authorities found it hard to enforce the ban since the beginning as users hid traffic behind mobile IP addresses. Further attempting to block access, officials ended up switching off large chunks of the internet, which included banks and also Gmail.

However, before the ban, Telegram users suspected of terrorism, had their data given to the government. "If Telegram receives a court order that confirms you're a terror suspect, we may disclose your IP addresses and phone number to the relevant authorities," reads Telegram's privacy policy back in 2018.

Previously, it was reported that many government agencies asked Roskomnadzor to lift Telegram's ban formally. Durov said that the u-turn happened after Telegram's "willingness" to help.

Telegram Co-operates

"We're ready to cooperate with all internet companies operating in the country to promptly stop the spread of terrorist and extremist information, child pornography, suicide and drugs propaganda," Roskomnadzor statement read.

Previously, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) sought tools to break Telegram's messaging encryptions to read private conversations, since two suspects in the 2017 St. Petersburg metro bombings allegedly used Telegram app to coordinate their attacks.

However, Telegram maintained that it didn't have access to users' encryption keys. Roskomnadzor had blocked many of its users' access to many unrelated online services while blacklisting millions of IP addresses attempting to block the app in April 2018. The app is widely used by Russian officials and also government agencies including state-run media outlets despite the ban. The nation's opposition lawmakers recently submitted legislation to allow Telegram in the country.