Censorship of Telegram: What? When? Where?

Apps Mar 18, 2021


Telegram is a cloud-based, cross-platform messenger available on mobile and desktop platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, and macOS. Telegram transmits messages directly between its users, not remaining any data on servers at all, and makes them go through complicated protocols of encryption. Telegram founder Pavel Durov is against giving out correspondence data of the users to the government, which makes a lot of legal problems for the app in several countries.


In 2013, the Telegram app was launched by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov. Formerly, the brothers founded VK, a Russian social network, which was taken they left in 2014 after it was taken over by.

In October 2013, Telegram announced it had 100,000 daily active users, and already in March 2014, the number reached 35M monthly users and 15M daily active users. Telegram's popularity grew so fast that already in September 2015, the app had over 60M active users with 12B daily messages. With such a positive trend, in 2021, Telegram reached about 500M monthly active users.


· FAST: Telegram is a fast messenger, which connects its users through a distributed network of data centers worldwide.

· SYNCED: Messages you get on different devices can be accessed at once. Starting being typed on one device, the message can be finished on the other one.

· UNLIMITED: Any types of files and media can be sent. All your data and attachments are securely kept in the Telegram cloud without taking space on your device.

· SECURE: Telegram is using top security practices to protect its users' data. It uses 2048-bit RSA and 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, and also Diffie–Hellman secure key exchange.

· POWERFUL: Group chats with 200K members can be created, where any type of files and media can be shared, and bots can be set up.

· FUN: Telegram provides effective editing tools for photos and video, and the ability to search for stickers and GIFs.

· SIMPLE: Although Telegram has many features, its interface is clean and intuitive, making users easily understand what and where everything is.

· FREE & ADS-FREE: No subscriptions. No ads are serving. Telegram is promised to be always free.

· PRIVATE: No third parties have access to Telegram's users' data.

Countries where it is blocked:

In 2017 in Russia, the law, which among other things, obliges keys to let FSB of Russia decrypt Telegram's users' correspondence, was adopted. Durov decided not to jeopardize users' privacy and decided not to provide the keys.

In 2018, Telegram was fined for the fact that the messenger did not transfer the keys to the correspondence of six people accused of the terrorist, attack in St. Petersburg. And then they issued an ultimatum: either you provide the decryption technology within 15 days, or Roskomnadzor will implement an instant blocking. The agency began blocking numerous IP addresses used by Telegram.

On June 15, 2020, a bill was introduced to the State Duma that prohibited Telegram blocking in the event of the introduction of high alert or emergency regimes since the messenger is a means of obtaining operational information for a large number of Russians.

On June 18, 2020, Roskomnadzor officially announced that it would provide restrictions on access to Telegram in accordance with the agreement reached with the Prosecutor General's Office, "having positively assessed the willingness to counteract terrorism and extremism expressed by the founder of Telegram. The Russian authorities were pleased that Telegram is now available in Russia, and company representatives are participating in discussions on IT development.

In China, for example, the fight against Telegram has been going on for a long time. The messenger was blocked there back in July 2015, when the administration refused to provide local special services with user data. In addition, human rights defenders loved to hang out there. For a while there, the "cart" worked through a VPN, and then the government of the country obliged all VPNs to obtain a permit to work in China.

For several weeks, problems with access to Telegram were in Indonesia. In July, local authorities ordered to block access to it because of "a large number of channels spreading radical propaganda, calls for terror and other information prohibited by Indonesian law." However, the minister of communications backed down in August and admitted that the administration of the service was taking steps towards the fight against prohibited content.

Iran also tried to fight Telegram. In April 2018, the court decided to block the service, as it was perceived as a threat to national security. Local government agencies and officials actively used the messenger. And, in principle, Telegram is very popular in this country - there, the application is installed on smartphones of half of the inhabitants. One of the reasons for the refusal of the leader of the Islamic Republic, by the way, was the alleged monopoly position of Telegram.

When Telegram was blocked there for one of the first times (yes, there were several blockages), the idea was quickly abandoned. International agencies argued that the matter was in the losses incurred by the companies tied to the messenger and the channels in it. It was claimed that about 100,000 people lost their jobs due to blockages.

Nevertheless, Telegram was turned off in Iran so that abroad it seemed as if the Internet had been turned off in the country. According to some media reports, this was exactly the case in some cities. The blocking began with access to VPN from the country, and the number of views on Iranian Telegram news channels fell by about 20%.