Despite the Russian government’s best efforts to crush the encrypted messaging service Telegram, the number of its users has risen not fallen: the number of economically active users in big Russian cities reached 3.67mn people, Vedomosti daily said on June 29 citing the data of Mediascope.
Compared to October 2017 when the state began its assult on the service, the number of Russian users jumped by 70%, with the largest increase seen in March when Russian court ruled that Telegram should pass the encryption keys to the Federal Security Bureau (FSB).
Users value the privacy the service affords as it said to be uncrackable. The service has also flourished in Iran where the authorities also moved this year to ban it.
Telegram, founded by Russian self-exiled digital entrepreneur Pavel Durov, has been waging a war with Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor since April, which is unsuccessfully trying the block the messenger on Russian territory after Durov simply ignored the court ruling.
The state’s blundering has lead to its ridicule. Blanket blocking of IP address clusters hosted by Amazon and Google to limit the use of Telegram have led to frequent disruptions of over 400 of Russian internet services, according to estimates of soft developer Flexbby cited by Kommersant daily on April 26.
At one point Roskomnadzor even managed to shut down its own site by mistake, while Telegram operated throughout the campaign without pause. Moreover many Russian politicians are openly defying the ban and continue to use the service.
The total cost of constantly migrating to new IP addresses for Telegram, as well as cost of repairing collateral damage for other services is estimated at $2bn, with Amazon and Google possibility losing an estimated $940mn due to the disruption of their cloud services.