Indian Intelligence Services Watching Russia’s War Against Telegram

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FILE PHOTO: Men pose with smartphones in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Indian intelligence agencies is following the footsteps of Russia ongoing effort to close encrypted messaging company Telegram.

Telegram has been increasingly used by Jihadists and other religious extremists to spread negativity.

Russia’s Top court, The FSB has approved the request of Country’s federal security service to block the telegram after it declined to decrypt message sent by a person who was involved in the St. Petersburg metro bombing on April 3, 2017 in which sixteen people were killed, Including perpetrator and left 64 people injured.

Metro of St Petersburg where blast occurred

“There is a great deal of interest in the law enforcement and intelligence communication across the world on Russia’s course of action. No one wants coercive measures, but we hope this will prove the tipping point which compels the internet firms to begin to address our concerns.”

If Russian experiment gets successful it will boost Indian government efforts to restrict encrypted communication technologies which stalled after criticism forced the withdraw of the National encryption policy in 2015.

Roskomnadzor, Russia communication networks regulator, has now told mobile Networks to block access to Telegram. In addition it has blocked an estimated two million internet addresses linked to Amazon and google, whose digital infrastructure issued by the Telegram to run its service Bank, bussiness and voice-over internet service companies using Amazon or Google infrastructure have been hit as result.

Earlier similiar actions compelled Amazon to asked zello popular with political parties in Ukraine, Turkey to end its use of infrastructure.

Telegram founder, Pavel Durov  who is criticiser of current Russian government vowed not to buckled. Durov claims traffic from Russia is about 10% of Telegram users, has not declined with users turning to virtual private networks and proxy services to evade the government’s action.

Telegram is not only highly criticised in Russia but also facing similar situation in Britain where Theresa May called it a platform of modern slavery, child abuse and to spread terrorist and extremist content. Iran is also taking to step to replace the app with home developed app. In turn, Telegram security built has been challenged by some expert calling its lack of end to end encryption and use of non standard MT proto encryption protocol.

Indian intelligence services including intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis wing and non technical research organisation have long tried to influence the government officials to enable greater access to internet user data, as well as encryption technologies used by services such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Wire and Signal which is followed by many Indians. The encrypted calling capabilities of such software is attractive to citizens who fear unlawful espionage by the state or business competitors.

Since 2014, India is known to operating NETRA, home made system to harvest internet data but it does not have capacity to decrypt highly encrypted communication, which led intelligence agency to call for restriction to companies unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement.