Moscow tries to block Telegram app

For roughly two weeks the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor has been trying to block the popular messaging app Telegram. To this end it has also blocked 16 million IP addresses of Amazon, Google and other network operators in a bid to prevent Telegram from circumventing the ban. Millions of websites are currently inaccessible. Will the blockade backfire?

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Republic (RU) /

Russia blocking its own digital future

The Russian state is blocking its own path towards modernisation and a digital economy, Republic fears:

“Stable communication - this is what will form the basis of the economies of all the developed and many of the developing nations in the next 20 years. It's like the air we breathe. Elements of the 'Internet of things' already exist in today's Russia. That's why over the last week worries have been circulating that in the event of a serious problem the software of a computed tomography scanner at a regional hospital or the control programmes of a chemicals plant or an underground train network could start looking for the information they require in the cloud - and not be able to access it because of the heroic deeds of their comrades at Roskomnadsor [the Russian Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications].”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

The fight against photocopiers was also lost

Russia's authorities haven't grasped how the Internet works, writes Eesti Päevaleht:

“Blocking Internet resources is an old instrument which Russian leaders use to fight 'forbidden information'. For four years the federal authority Roskomnadzor has been blocking websites like Grani.ru und Kasparov.ru. But the blockade is not very effective because the leadership doesn't understand the nature of information technology. ... In the age of global networks services like Telegram can only be blocked if Russia is completely cut off from the Internet. But that would only work if Russia set up something like the Chinese Wall for the Internet. ... The situation is reminiscent of the Soviet Union's campaign against photocopiers back in the 1980s. And everyone knows how that ended.”

Vedomosti (RU) /

Censorship authorities will stop at nothing

Business paper Vedomosti anticipates ever more Internet censorship:

“When the state authority feels the desire to cut off a service for Russian users, clearly it won't let anything stand in its way: neither its popularity nor the fact that the state itself uses it nor the absurdity of the explanation for the blockade. After Telegram any messenger service that has the courage to defy the officials could be next. ... The absurdity of the bans and restrictions together with the bulldozer-like persistence of their initiators and ideologists is a toxic combination that only produces cynicism.”

Izvestia (RU) /

Criminals can easily get around blockades

The blockade is completely ineffective, Izvestia explains:

“There are plenty of VPN and proxy servers that people can use to get around the ban - and the state can't block them all. Most Russians hardly use such services, but the criminals don't belong to that majority. Someone who is planning an act of terrorism will take the trouble to find out how VPNs work. For fanatics, all these blockades are basically irrelevant. So that means we're aren't depriving terrorists or drug traffickers of any communications channels. Yet this is precisely the justification the intelligence authorities give for needing access to the messaging service's coding. On top of all that we are now forcing potential and real criminals to hide behind screens, which will make it even more difficult to track them down.”