65 human rights organizations called on Russian Internet companies to resist authorities’ demands

65 human rights organizations called on Russian Internet companies to resist authorities’ demands

In addition, in their appeal, human rights activists called on the Russian authorities to cease blocking Telegram and to stop "unremitting attacks" on the freedom of the Internet in general.

International and Russian human rights organizations signed an open letter criticizing the blocking of Telegram messenger in Russia. In particular, they urged the Internet companies not to comply with the authorities' demands that violate human rights. The letter has been posted on the website of British non-commercial organization Article 19.

Moreover, in their appeal, human rights activists called on the Russian authorities to cease blocking Telegram and to stop "unremitting attacks" on the freedom of the Internet in general. They also asked the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the governments of the EU and the US to condemn the actions of the Russian authorities. 

Amnesty International, Agora International, Moscow Helsinki Group, Reporters Without Borders, Roskomsvoboda, Team 29, Transparency International are among the signatories of the letter.

In total, 53 organizations are listed under the letter. Later, the Head of human rights organization Agora, representing the interests of Telegram in Russia, Pavel Chikov, penned in his telegram channel that the number of organizations supporting the appeal had reached 65. 

Blocking websites or applications is an extreme measure, similar to banning a newspaper or revoking a license from a television station. As such, it is most likely a disproportionate interference with the freedom of expression and freedom of the media in the overwhelming majority of cases, and must be subject to strict control.

Roskomnadzor blocked Telegram in Russia since April 16 by a court decision. It was made in connection with the refusal of the messenger to provide the FSB with encryption keys from the users' correspondence. It was Yarovaya law adopted in summer 2016 that obliged messengers to give the authorities the data to decode messages.

To circumvent the blockage, Telegram used the IP addresses of such hosting providers as Amazon and Google. Roskomnadzor blocked almost 20 million addresses of these providers, as a result of which third-party sites started to have issues with access. For the time being, according to telegram channel RKNSHOWTIME, about 11 million IP addresses remain blocked.

The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, called on Russians to "digital resistance". On April 30 Moscow held a concerted action against the blocking of Telegram, which was attended by about 11 thousand people. On May 13 the capital also saw a rally for Internet freedom; despite the fact that the action was agreed upon, several dozen people were detained at it.

Despite the efforts of Roskomnadzor, the majority of Russians continue to use Telegram. According to service of analytics TGStat.ru, a month after the instant messenger was blocked, the share of active Telegram audience has dropped by 7%, the average number of post views per day - by 15%; analysts link this to the May holidays.

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