Russia Bans WhatsApp, Discord, Telegram, and Others

Interestingly, Telegram is also part of this ban, although it is owned by Russian millionaire Pavel Durov.

The Russian government’s media monitoring entity, Roskomnadzor, has announced the banning of nine popular instant chat apps in the country, citing a new law.

The Russian government has added a wide range of Western messaging apps to its Register of Prohibited Sites, including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Discord, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, and Telegram.

In addition, European encrypted messaging apps Viber and Threema, as well as the Chinese communication app WeChat, have also been banned.

According to a memo posted by a famous online library of hacked materials, such as source codes and malware, the Russian Federation has banned all Western social media and online messaging applications.

The complete list of banned apps includes the following:

  1. Viber
  2. Discord
  3. WeChat
  4. Snapchat
  5. Telegram
  6. Threema
  7. WhatsApp
  8. Microsoft Teams
  9. Skype for Business

The government has devised a new law on Information, Information Technologies, and Information Protection to ban these applications, which was formally implemented yesterday. The law is part of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, aka Roskomnadzor (RKN).

Article 8-10 of the new law applies to government agencies and organizations and establishes a ban for several Russian organizations on using Western foreign messaging apps.

In a statement, Roskomnadzor said, “The law establishes a ban for a number of Russian organizations on the use of foreign messengers (information systems and computer programs owned by foreign persons that are designed and (or) used for exchanging messages exclusively between their users, in which the sender determines the recipients of messages and does not provide for placement by internet users publicly available information on the internet).”

It is worth noting that Zoom and Signal have not been added to the list, but they may be added to the Russian government’s infamous register sometime later. These restrictions are placed on government officials to minimize the possibility of sensitive data landing in the wrong hands, particularly to Ukraine’s allies. Or this could be part of a wider crackdown against foreign tech services in Russia.

Interestingly, Telegram is also part of this block list, even though it is owned by Russian millionaire Pavel Durov. This app is popular in Ukraine and in the western regions, which could be a reason for its blacklisting. App and site owners can file an appeal within a month before they are placed on the Register of Prohibited Sites; however, the appeal may be denied.

In 2018, the Russian administration formally banned Telegram, 50+ VPNs and anonymizers in the country and has already blocked hundreds of Western social networking platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, as well as news platforms. There has also been a crackdown against the use of the Tor browser and VPNs.

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