Telegram is a popular messaging service in Russia, partially because of its encrypted communication capabilities. However, the company may be forced to disclose its encryption keys if a new court ruling stands. Russian Supreme Court Judge Alla Nazarova denied Telegram's appeal today, ordering it to hand over the keys to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Russia is in the midst of a crackdown on secure messaging clients following the implementation of new anti-terrorism laws in 2016. Russia now requires that messaging services provide the government with the means to decrypt user communications. Telegram, which is launching a cryptocurrency that could bring in billions of dollars, has refused to comply.
Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users won't bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.
— Pavel Durov (@durov) March 20, 2018
Telegram says it will continue to fight the order in court, but the Russian government does not seem likely to back down. The FSB claims that encryption keys cannot be considered private under the Russian constitution. If Telegram does not hand over the keys, it could be fined and blocked from operating in Russia—one of the service's biggest markets with more than 9.5 million users.