Russia’s state telecommunications regulator said on Monday that it’s starting to block the access to messenger service Telegram. Telegram refused to comply with an order to give Russia access to users’ private communication.
NordVPN, a VPN service provider, has seen a 150% increase in Russian users since Russia announced its plans to block Telegram.
Telegram is blocked by banning certain websites or IP addresses that provide access to the app – and this block can be bypassed by using a VPN. A user can choose to connect to a VPN server in any country where Telegram is accessible and easily circumvent the restrictions.
“VPNs come really handy when governments block certain websites or apps – or implement harsh surveillance rules,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “We always see an increase of users from the countries where freedom of speech is restricted or surveillance is increased. For example, UK users grew by 300% when Investigatory Powers Act, which allows mass hacking by the government, was introduced in 2016. U.S. users also grew by 300% in the past year due to many reasons, including the repeal of net neutrality. Now it’s Russia’s turn. While Russia has been blocking thousands of sites for years, Telegram’s ban seems to have really crossed the line.”
Besides giving access to blocked sites, VPNs encrypt all the information that passes between a user’s device and the VPN server. In this case, Telegram users should look for a VPN service with mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Telegram is a very popular messaging app in across the former Soviet Union and Middle East, also used by Russia’s journalists and political opposition.