Last week, Roskomnadzor unexpectedly announced that the department positively assesses the readiness expressed earlier by Pavel Durov to counter terrorism and extremism on Telegram. As a result, restrictions on access to the messenger in force since spring 2018 were lifted in agreement with the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, and the registry of banned sites “lost weight” in one day from 676,000 to 30,000 IP addresses.
Deputy Head of the Ministry of Communications of the Russian Federation Alexey Volin declaredthat this decision was made by Roskomnadzor and the prosecutor’s office due to the fact that there is currently no technical opportunity to block Telegram, as well as due to the fact that the messenger’s representatives “began to actively cooperate in the fight against terrorism and drug addiction in their midst.”
Pavel Durov commented on this event in his Russian-language Telegram channel, thanked all users for their support and promised that "the right to privacy and confidentiality of personal correspondence will remain the fundamental principle of Telegram in all countries."
In the English-language Telegram channel yesterday, June 22, 2020, appeared another message, it is also dedicated to unlocking the messenger, but differs significantly from the Russian one. In it, Pavel Durov writes:
In April 2018, the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor blocked Telegram in the country. We knew that this would happen, and by the time the locks started, we had already updated Telegram applications, adding support for rotational proxies, ways to hide traffic and other censorship tools. Thousands of Russian engineers joined us, creating their own proxies for Telegram users, creating a decentralized movement called “Digital impedance"
The first week of the ban was not easy, and many of our users in Russia had problems with the connection. Trying to prevent users from Telegram, Roskomnadzor blocked millions of IP addresses. However, thanks to the “Digital Resistance”, after May 2018, Telegram became widely available in Russia.
As a result, the number of Telegram users in Russia has not decreased; in fact, it has doubled since 2018. In May 2020, of the 400 million monthly active Telegram users, at least 30 million were from Russia. This means that our growth in Russia corresponds to growth in other countries. Simply put, the ban didn't work.
Last week, Roskomnadzor, which had a new head two months ago, decided to be true, announcing that Telegram in Russia is no longer blocked. In their statement, they referred to my message from June 4, where I explained why the ban does not make much sense.
These changes should be welcomed, and I hope they continue. If not, we hope that few users will notice the difference.
Over the past two years, we had to regularly update our “unlocking” technology to stay ahead of the censors. I am proud of what we have achieved – it (the technology) is unique among social media applications.
We do not want this technology to be rusty and outdated. Therefore, we decided to send our censorship resources to other places where Telegram is still banned by governments, to countries such as Iran and China. We ask administrators of former proxy servers for Russian users to concentrate their efforts on these countries. They should also be prepared for new challenges: as the political situation in the world becomes more unpredictable, more and more governments may try to block privacy-oriented applications such as Telegram.
The Digital Resistance movement did not end last week after the ceasefire in Russia. It is just beginning and becoming global.