Security

Russia tweaks Telegram with tiny fine for decryption denial

FSB wanted keys, messaging outfit said Nyet

By Richard Chirgwin

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Encrypted messaging app Telegram must pay 800,000 roubles for resisting Russia's FSB's demand that it help decrypt user messages.

The fine translates to just under US$14,000, making it less of a serious punishment and more a shot across the bows.

However, it does seem to entrench the principle that the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) can demand decryption.

Moscow signalled its intention to crack down last year with legislation put to the Duma, proposing fines up to a million roubles for the administrative offence of not giving keys to the FSB.

Telegram's head office received its summons in July, according to this Russian-language report from the BBC. The summons demanded information about six numbers registered on the Telegram.

Judge Yulia Danilchik of the 383 Meshchansky District Court of Justice made the guilty finding and imposed the fine.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov has posted to Russian social site VK.com that it's not possible to comply.

“In addition to the fact that the requirements of the FSB are not technically feasible, they contradict Article 23 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation: 'Everyone has the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic and other communications,'” he wrote.

He indicated his intention to appeal, and keep doing so “until the claim of the FSB is considered by a judge familiar with the basic law of Russia - its Constitution”. ®

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