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| April 26, 2018

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Telegram Urges Paper Airplane Protest, Pussy Riot Activist Arrested

April 23, 2018 |

Telegram Urges Paper Airplane Protest, Pussy Riot Activist Arrested

After a Russian court enacted an immediate ban on the popular encrypted messaging service Telegram, the feisty company began to resist. Founder Pavel Durov insisted there were ways around the prohibition, including proxies and VPNs. It appears to have had some success even though millions of IP addresses have been blocked by the government. In response, some activists took to making paper airplanes (the company’s logo) in protest, flying them at the country’s notorious security agency’s headquarters, with some protesters being arrested. Mr. Durov took to his personal channel, urging Russians to fly their own paper airplanes in unison at a specific time.

Also read: Telegram Uses Bitcoin in Effort to Thwart Russian Authorities

Telegram Continues to Resist Russian Government Crackdown

“For 7 days Russia has been trying to ban Telegram on its territory – with no luck so far,” the still defiant founder of the encrypted messaging service posted to his personal channel. “I’m thrilled we were able to survive under the most aggressive attempt of internet censorship in Russian history with almost 18 million IP addresses blocked.”

Back on April 13, Dmitri S. Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, stressed, “There is a certain legislation that demands certain data to be passed to certain services of the Russian Federation.” Judge Yulia Smolina agreed, ruling, “The ban on access to information will be in force until the [Federal Security Service’s] demands are met on providing keys for decrypting user messages.”

Telegram Urges Paper Airplane Protest, Pussy Riot Activist Arrested
Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina

Roskomnadzor, a censuring media body, made the most vigorous argument in asking the court to shutter Telegram. Last month, the company appealed before the Supreme Court over Russia’s Federal Security Service’s (FSB) 800,000 ruble fine. The FSB ordered Telegram to decrypt messages in accordance with relatively recent anti-terrorism laws. “We don’t do deals with marketers, data miners or government agencies. Since the day we launched in August 2013 we haven’t disclosed a single byte of our users’ private data to third parties,” a Telegram blog post insisted. Telegram was summarily banned, effective immediately.

An initial response by Mr. Durov came also on his personal channel, explaining, “To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN. I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”

Telegram Urges Paper Airplane Protest, Pussy Riot Activist Arrested
Paper airplanes flown at Russia’s security agency in protest over country’s ban on Telegram.

The Digital Resistance Gets Paper Wings

Activists took to the streets roughly 4 days ago, placing themselves in front of the Federal Security Services’ headquarters, armed with colored paper. They then began to make paper airplanes in remembrance of the iconic Telegram logo. Not soon after, busses of uniformed police rolled up, and began dispersing the crowd, and wound up arresting Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina. She was brought before a nearby magistrate, booked on blocking a public passageway, and released.

In response, Mr. Durov insisted on April 22, “If you live in Russia and support free internet, fly a paper plane from your window at 7 PM local time today. Please collect the airplanes in your neighborhood an hour later – remember, today is Earth Day. My thanks to all the members of the #Digitalresistance movement. Keep up your great work setting up socks5-proxies and VPNs and spreading them among your Russian friends and relatives. They will be needed as the country descends into an era of full-scale internet censorship.”

Do you think such protests make a difference? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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