Telegram Using Bitcoin Grants to Circumvent Russia Ban
Pavel Durov, the founder of the popular messaging platform, Telegram has been using bitcoin payments to get around the platform’s ban by Russian authorities. Writing on his vk.com social media account, he shared:
“In the framework of the Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement in defense of digital freedoms and progress – I began to pay bitcoin grants to proxy and vpn administrators. During this year, I will be happy to donate millions of dollars of personal funds for these purposes. I urge everyone to join and participate – setting up proxy / vpn servers or their financing.”
Source : https://vk.com/durov?w=wall1_2307813
Russia Blocks 20 Million IP Addresses
Russian authorities recently blacklisted Telegram. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had requested the encryption keys to monitor group chats on the platform and had given Telegram an April 4 deadline to comply with the request. Telegram for their part declared that it is not possible to share encryption keys with a third-party due to the way the app is built and the fact that such a move goes against its user policy.
The ban which was announced on Friday, April 13, 2018, was put into effect on Monday, April 16, 2018. Roskomnadzor (RKN), the country’s telecoms watchdog began blocking more than 20 million Google and Amazon IP addresses. The loss of the platform’s Russia-based users which are estimated to be about seven percent of the platform’s user-base is not expected to have any adverse long-term effects. Durov has, however, declared that he would try to do all that he can to ensure the platform’s Russia-based users aren’t cut off.
Service Disruptions and Public Reactions
The steps that have been taken by the authorities so far haven’t been without consequences as local media outlets in Russia have released reports of numerous service disruptions unconnected to Telegram. There have been reports of crashes on network services like Netflix, the PlayStation Network, and Microsoft. Viber, a messaging app, posted a tweet announcing that Russian users were experiencing technical difficulties due to connectivity problems associated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the country.
In an ironic twist, local news outlet, Tjournal, reported that the website of the RKN has also been affected by the service disruptions. The RKN has denied any involvement in these network crashes. Reacting to the news, NSA whistleblower and advocate of user data privacy regulations, Edward Snowden, expressed outrage over the moves made by the RKN. In a tweet, he described the move as being a “morally and technically ignorant.”
The ban comes at a time when Telegram is still riding high from its massive ICO project which is the most successful in the history of cryptocurrency ICOs. The platform is also one of the biggest online cryptocurrency hubs and has become integral to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.