With the ongoing battle being waged between folks wanting to protect their privacy and governments that want to ensure they can access all our communications, just in case bad people want to do stuff, Russia recently upped the ante by banning the popular messaging app Telegram. The ban follows Telegram’s developers refusing to hand over encryption keys. But the knock on effect is causing widespread havoc.
Telegram boasts about 200 million global users with over 10 million Russian users – hence Vlad Putin’s focus on this Russian-created service.
To combat the ban, Telegram’s developers shifted their servers to AWS and Google so that Russia’s law enforcement services could be kept at bay. In response, the Russian government blocked a massive swathe of Google and AWS IP address ranges – about 16 million addresses were affected.
And while Telegram keeps running, pretty much unimpeded, Russian retailers, banks and other businesses have been broken because someone in Russia didn’t realise other Russian businesses use cloud services or understand how they work.
Russia has asked Apple, Google and APK Mirror to remove Telegram from their respective app stores even though bypassing such blocks are trivially easy. And so users don’t miss out on having a home-grown messaging solution, Putin’s government is suggesting users move to TamTam – a messaging app developed by the president’s mate which complies with the new laws.
We know that the Australian government is concerned about how easy it is to use strongly encrypted messaging services. Let’s hope someone on Canberra realises that blocking IP addresses or trying to thwart access to apps is not the way to do it.