A Russian government decision to block the messaging service Telegram exacerbates an ongoing effort by Moscow to suppress privacy and freedom of expression worse, the U.S. advocacy group Human Rights Watch said on Monday.
“Russia’ blocking of the messaging service Telegram is unjustified and has worsened the government’s widespread assault on privacy and freedom of expression online,’’ the release stated.
On April 13, a Moscow district court authorized Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications watchdog, to block Telegram Messenger in Russia without waiting for an appeal of the decision.
The court pointed out that Telegram would remain blocked in Russia until it provided encryption keys to the Russian authorities since the messenger can be widely used by terrorists to communicate in secret.
Human Rights Watch, along with almost 24 other rights groups, joined in a statement denouncing the ban and calling on Moscow to respect individual privacy rights, both online and offline.
The release also claimed that blocking Telegram restricts internet users’ access to information and makes them vulnerable to government surveillance.
Telegram CEO Pavel Durov said that Telegram would use built-in methods to bypass the restriction.