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Telegram registers in Russia after ban threat

Telegram's founder Pavel Durov registered the company so it works in Russia's "legal framework," but won't succumb to pressure to hand over user data.

Carl Court / Getty Images

After being threatened with a ban, it looks like Telegram is playing ball with Russia's government.

Telegram's founder Pavel Durov has agreed to register the company with the Russian government, but won't comply with laws that are "incompatible with the protection of [user] privacy and Telegram's policies on confidentiality." Durov announced his decision on Wednesday via VK, the Russian version of Facebook. 

Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Telegram, an app with over 100 million users globally, had submitted all required data and now works within the country's legal framework.

The announcement comes after Russian authorities put pressure on the company on Monday to register itself with the government as an "organiser of information dissemination," saying the messaging app allowed terrorists to communicate secretly, with "high degree of encryption." Failure to do so would cause Telegram to be banned, authorities had threatened.

Per Russia's anti-terrorist law, once a company is recognised as an organiser of information dissemination, it is required to keep user data on Russian servers for a year and hand it over to authorities when required.

Russia isn't the only country seeking ways to access user data on the pretext of fighting terror. Australia has called for companies to weaken encryption so terrorists cannot communicate in secret. The UK also urged WhatsApp to help its intelligence agencies investigating the Westminster attack and grant them access to encrypted texts.

Durov's decision has Telegram users worried about their privacy being compromised. When asked about the subject on Twitter, Durov clarified he "won't ever" share user data with the government.

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