Telegram ban: Google confirms Russia is blocking some of its services

23 Apr 2018

Telegram app. Image: spaxiax/Shutterstock

Russia’s ban on Telegram has a knock-on effect on Google services.

The decision taken by the Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor to ban Telegram earlier in April is affecting far more services than just the messaging app itself.

On 17 April, the body confirmed it had blocked millions of IP addresses, citing their potential usefulness for Telegram users to circumvent the ban.

Google confirms it is being affected

Google confirmed to TechCrunch today (23 April) that some of its proprietary services are being adversely affected by the IP crackdown.

The company said it was investigating reports that Russian users were not able to access some Google products, with Gmail, Android push notifications and Google search among the features users are encountering problems with.

The Russian regulator officially announced the blockade on Google services today via a Facebook post. A number of other high-profile services have also been affected besides Google, from Slack and Nintendo to SoundCloud and Spotify.

According to COO and co-founder of Vee Security, Ilya Andreev, up to 2m users are being supported by a proxy service, which the company is providing.

The mass blockage of IP addresses is happening in an effort to curb Telegram from hopping from one IP address to a new one when one is blocked by Roskomnadzor authorities.

Another app, Zello, resorted to IP-hopping for close to a year until the authorities began blocking access to entire subnetworks of IP addresses to curb the practice, and firms such as Google asked Zello to stop in order to unblock other services.

Russia makes a statement

According to Russian news agency Tass, Roskomnadzor made the following statement about Google services on 22 April: “As of today, Google has not met the demands of Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) and, in violation of the court’s verdict, continues allowing the Telegram Messenger Limited Liability Partnership company to use its IP addresses for activity in the Russian territory.

“Due to this, Roskomnadzor has included in the registry of banned information a number of IP addresses of Google, which are used by Telegram to carry out its activity in Russia.”

The ban stems from Telegram’s refusal to hand over encryption keys to Russia’s federal security service, with the former citing privacy rights and the fact that said keys were stored on the devices of the millions of service users in Russia.

Several demonstrations have been held in the country, with users against the ban gathering together in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Telegram app. Image: spaxiax/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects