Yesterday we learned a lot. Starting from the fact that Roskomnadzor may not comply with the court’s decision, because the agency is both a plaintiff and a performer, and unlocking the messenger will bring the economy of telegram channels out of the shadows, ending ... But here a lot of questions arise. What about the fight against terrorism and other crime? What will happen to information security now? Why did they wait and unlock for two years now? And what will change in general?
We turned to experts with these questions, and also asked those who best know it from the inside, the administrators of the leading telegram channels, to comment on the situation.
It turned out that, for example, for the state, all attempts to block were useless, and third-party services that had nothing to do with the messenger suffered the most. Independent analyst Dmitry Milin draws attention to this :
- Roskomnadzor at the peak of its madness to block Telegram blocked hundreds of thousands of IP-addresses of resources that have nothing to do with the Telegram messenger. As a law-abiding citizen of the Russian Federation, it is not clear to me why the then head of Roskomnadzor, Mr. Zharov, is not in the dock. By and large, with the impunity of mass blocking of IP addresses, the state has demonstrated that the Criminal Code does not apply to officials and in its “Herostratic”, Luddite efforts, the state has no decree at all, neither laws, nor the Constitution (guaranteeing freedom of speech), or common sense.
The authors of the channel Kremlin Bezbashennik Kremlin are sure that nothing has changed. The locks only gave additional advertising, and played into the hands of Pavel Durov.
- In the Telegram, after such decisions of the authorities, nothing will change. The effect of such advertising on the messenger, which was associated with the ban on Telegram and caused an influx of new users, especially in its political segment, is hardly to be expected this time. Whoever wanted it and who was interested in it, has long been here.
The Kremlin mamcologist notes the whole absurdity of the former locks - not even one of the officials considered them seriously.
- Everyone continued to use it freely for two years of blocking, from time to time including a VPN. I would like to remind you that our entire elite, just two weeks after the start of the blockage, in May 2018, during the inauguration of the President, in anticipation of the ceremony, vividly discussed who uses which VPN or proxy.
But the chairman of the commission for the legal support of the digital economy of the Moscow branch of the Russian Bar Association, Alexander Zhuravlev, sees positive aspects in the official unblocking.
- It is important that changes legally. This promise of the state is very good. If we recall the reasons for the lock, the question was about the transfer of keys, which is impossible in principle. Then the legislation lagged behind the development of technology. But now the state has understood and recognized that there are processes that cannot be regulated. No legislation can keep up with technology and now we need to revise the models so that this does not happen again.
The sentiments regarding the Russian authorities began to change with the creator of Telegram Pavel Durov himself. Most recently, he wrote how hard and bad it is to live in the USA, and yesterday morning he criticized Apple and Google for the high sales tax that they themselves charge. After the news on unlocking, Durov issued a laudatory post on how cancellation of locks is useful to the whole industry and how the investment attractiveness of Russian IT is growing.
In Telegram itself, a number of channels began to speak out in favor of the fact that all this was rather suspicious, questions arose about whether they had agreed on the notorious transfer of keys, especially since there was information about Durov’s cooperation with law enforcement agencies.
Dmitry Milin immediately rejects this possibility:
- Pavel Durov could not transfer “encryption keys”, because the technology used in the messenger does not allow this. “Encryption keys” are generated there dynamically and their knowledge will not give anything to the special services.
But the general director of ANO "PravoRobotov" Nikita Kulikov does not share optimism about the absolute confidentiality of the service:
- No messenger can be considered completely safe. If there is a binding to a telephone number, then there can be no talk of complete confidentiality. Telegram was ready to make some image concessions. Telegram still had to cooperate with the special services for the crimes committed, including terrorist ones. Otherwise, the American regulator would not have allowed the company to go ICO .
The channel Media Technologist reassures: if you do not commit anything openly illegal, then there is nothing to fear. Otherwise, security would not have existed without the demands of the Russian authorities.
- Durov didn’t tell anything to anyone - the streamlined wording of Roskomnadzor says that the author of the messenger agrees to assist in the fight against terrorism and the like. Well, Telegram, without any departments, perfectly blocked pornography and channels of all Igilovites banned in the Russian Federation. It’s just that the agency is trying to show its weight, because in this situation it looks extremely stupid, they did not have any opportunities to ban the messenger.
Trends in self-regulation in modern social networks are confirmed by Alexander Zhuravlev:
- Now there is a trend towards self-regulation. Facebook also has a department that moderates content, Twitter began to label content. If you do not control the content at all, then this leads to negative consequences.
People, including officials of the highest rank, and so did not stop using Telegram, fundamentally something unlocking will not change. So maybe MP Anton Gorelkin , a member of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, was right, suggesting that Telegram could become a platform for new media, and the channel economy would become more transparent? Or is it all simple and simple - the government is trying to show its progressiveness and openness on the eve of the upcoming vote? There must be some essence in the actions of Roskomnadzor ...
But the telegram channels, which know better how their “kitchen” is arranged, do not think so. Here is what the Kremlin Bezbashennik says :
- Do not entertain some with illusions about ideas about the possibility of equating telegram channels with the media, as well as about the fact that it has or could have some decisive influence on the electoral mood of citizens on the eve of the vote on amendments to the Constitution and others sensitive to the authorities, the will of citizens. Telegram was and will remain in the near future a tool for "sending signals" between the elites, as well as a "drain tank" for various kinds of commercial and other showdowns. But not only. Often, he was the main way to convey to the authorities information on various kinds of corruption or resonance events in the field and in the center, which before that they had stubbornly tried to “ignore”.
The media technologist is also skeptical of getting out of the shadow of the channels. And he believes that the authors of the channels are not interested in this.
- Well, what if the economy of channels can come out of the shadows? Let’s remember how the tax authorities tried to “attach” bloggers - here the mechanisms are exactly the same, only the owners of the channels remain anonymous. That is, a blogger, for whom a part of the media themselves couldn’t untwist their own name, and a channel that basically doesn’t name the names of its authors, will suddenly open bookkeeping? This is nonsense, said by one deputy, who for some reason is listed in the profile committee, but does not understand anything in the media.
But the channel By the way connects such a sudden decision with voting. Almost everything is connected with him now:
- In our opinion, the news about Telegram unblocking appeared not by chance a week before the start of voting on amendments to the Constitution. The authorities want to show the elite and the middle class that they are not bothering and are ready to admit their mistakes. A typical technological move, which is popularly called the "thaw." On the whole, one can appreciate such a story in the “carrot and stick” paradigm. It was accordingly a carrot. The whip will also be, but later.
Nikita Kulikov sees in the reasons for the unblocking, first of all, the technical component and the humility of the authorities. They wanted to get encryption keys, they tried for 2 years, but now they have filled enough cones:
- Previously, in the understanding of Roskomnadzor, Telegram was a centralized system with keys available. But in the past few years, Telegram has been actively developing its blockchain platform. The only thing that stopped was the disagreement with the American regulator. Fighting the messenger on the blockchain is an absolutely useless task. Without a single center, no keys can be obtained.
And Alexander Zhuravlev does not exclude increased transparency. Not now and not from unlocking, but the first step has been taken:
- I think that increasing transparency is possible, but a comfortable environment should be created for this. It requires a change in the law on advertising and a revision of tax legislation regarding activities, as well as special regulation of platforms, instant messengers and similar programs. Aggressive policies to remove from the shadows will only give the opposite result.
Dmitry Milin points out that the authorities themselves contributed to the fact that Telegram de facto already took the place of the media. The messenger will not become a platform for new media, it already is.
- At one time, the current President of the Public Chamber under the President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Fadeev complained that Telegram channels are destroying Russian journalism. But Telegram channels do not destroy Russian journalism - they are Russian journalism, which is almost destroyed by state censorship in other legal media. The defeat of the Vedomosti editorial office is another sad example. Anonymous Telegram channels have become a de facto source of honest and uncensored information about Russia and the world. So for me in the 21st century, in fact, there are no other reliable and operational sources of information other than telegram channels.
According to the assessment of the Media Technologist , the unblocking of the Telegram is the recognition of the complete technical incapacity of the state in the fight against the messenger:
- “Unblocking”, of course, is a recognition of the complete inability to “turn off” the cart. After all, the decision was announced? It was. Tests of equipment for deep filtering traffic led? Veli. Therefore, if it turned out, no one would have jerked now, we would simply have buried this unique form of media, which was born thanks to the Durov platform on the enthusiasm of a variety of people.
So will there really be no changes in Telegram soon after the official unblocking? Not certainly in that way. The Kremlin mamcologist points to the inevitable expansion of the presence of government agencies and corporations. The messenger has already managed to become the main mouthpiece of official news on the coronavirus, and no one will refuse such a powerful information resource:
- With the Telegram unlocking, we do not expect an audience growth, but we count on the arrival of previously unrepresented federal and regional structures, as well as an increase in interest from the corporate business, primarily in the political, financial and economic segment.
So Telegram lived, lives and will live. Favorite anonymous channels will remain in it, messages are still protected (most likely) from "Comrade Major". Only now, without embarrassment, can government agencies be present in it. A rare case, but this time the actions of the authorities did not make anyone worse.