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Russia lifts its ban on the Telegram messenger app

The ban was mostly ineffective, as Russians found ways to access the app

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Russia will lift its nearly two-year ban on messenger app Telegram, Reuters reported. The country’s telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor said the company had shown “willingness” to help with counterterrorism efforts.

“Roskomnadzor is dropping its demands to restrict access to Telegram messenger in agreement with Russia’s general prosecutor’s office,” the agency said in a statement.

A Russian court history of use by terrorist organizations. Its refusal to provide access to encryption keys ran afoul of Russia’s anti-terrorism laws, which require messaging services to give ities access to decrypt messages. Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said in 2018 that “privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.”

But the ban was mostly ineffective and led to a messy back-and-forth, with ISPs according to the Independent. Many Russian agencies and Russians continued to find ways to use Telegram.

Earlier this month, Durov said ities in Russia should lift the ban to let Russian users access the service “with more comfort.” He said the company has improved its tools for detecting and deleting extremist content on the platform.

Telegram said in April it had reached 400 million monthly active users, a doubling of its user base in just the past two years.