Russian government bans Telegram encrypted messaging app

Posted on April 18th, 2018 by in Proton Stories.

Read this article in Russian.

On April 16, the Russian government banned the Telegram messaging app after the company refused to hand the authorities encryption keys that would have given them access to users’ messages. Telegram called the ban “anti-constitutional” and vowed to continue fighting for Russians’ privacy rights.

While there are other encrypted messaging apps out there, this ban is meant to send a warning to the Russian public that the government will not tolerate privacy. Practically speaking, the Telegram ban limits the choice of channels users have to communicate with their friends or relatives. But there are ways to circumvent the ban, and some of the service’s 9.5 million Russian users are already doing just that.

Bypassing Russia’s Telegram Ban

Use a VPN

Russia may start forcing Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the Telegram domain name and all IP addresses used by the messaging app. If Russia uses this method of censorship, Telegram users can get around the block by using a VPN. VPNs create an encrypted tunnel for your Internet connection that makes it impossible for ISPs to see when your device connects to one of Telegram’s IP addresses. It means that users in Russia can continue to use Telegram as though they were not in Russia.

ProtonVPN is a free VPN designed precisely for situations like this. When the Turkish government blocked Proton Mail recently in a similar act of censorship, Proton VPN was one way for users to overcome government restrictions. Developed with a focus on security, Proton VPN includes features such as a kill switch, Secure Core servers, Tor over VPN and perfect forward secrecy.

Get Proton VPN here

Switch to other encrypted messaging apps

Those concerned about online privacy should also consider services such as Signal and Wire as alternatives. Both provide end-to-end encryption, are open source, and are highly regarded among security experts. The Telegram app, meanwhile, doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default and must be turned on manually, among other concerns.

Join the fight for online freedom

As the world’s only community-supported VPN service, our mission is to make online safety and privacy accessible to people around the globe, including in Russia. Efforts to block encrypted services anywhere are an attack on privacy everywhere.

That’s why we will continue to speak out against online censorship while expanding and improving Proton VPN, such as adding servers in new countries and protecting our users no matter what content they choose to access. Our work is only possible through the support of paid users, so if you find that Proton VPN is a useful tool for protecting your privacy and security online, please consider upgrading to a paid account and supporting our mission.

Best Regards,
The Proton VPN Team

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Proton was founded by scientists who met at CERN and had the idea that an internet where privacy is the default is essential to preserving freedom. Our team of developers, engineers, and designers from all over the world is working to provide you with secure ways to be in control of your online data.

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