Telegram is now one of the world’s most famous instant messaging apps because they promised their users protection from the prying eyes of the intelligence services.
However, the provision of a platform that will allow its users to evade official scrutiny brought it a lot of problems. In the past years, the Islamic State used Telegram so they can disseminate propaganda, claim responsibility for attacks and organize terrorism plots.
Due to the protection of national security, the governments of Russia and Iran are now leading in their attempts to block the Telegram application.
Their Sales Pitch is Privacy
Telegram began in the wake of revelations from Edward Snowden of the United States’ large-scale surveillance. It got pitched as the champion of privacy. After Facebook was able to acquire the messaging start-up called WhatsApp, Telegram was able to attract millions of new users.
Even if a Russian named Pavel Durov founded Telegram, the messaging app rejects any affiliation with the country Russia. Despite this, a cybersecurity expert who is also a visiting professor at England’s University of Surrey named Alan Woodward said that the fact that it is not American made it a significant attraction.
Mr. Woodward also added that a lot of users are suspicious of rivals like Signal or WhatsApp that allow backdoor access to the Western intelligence agencies.
Before the recent problems of Telegram institutions such as the Kremlin and figures like the supreme leader of Iran named Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was one of the 200 million users of the messaging app. Since the popularity of Telegram increased, it prompted scrutiny from countries such as France because they found the app as a platform that can coordinate terrorism.
The growing criticisms made Telegram to ban the public channels that the Islamic State uses. The channels are part of their distinctive features that allow the messages to get broadcasted to an indefinite number of users. However, Mr. Durov and other people at Telegram insisted that the private messages should remain private.
The founder of Telegram named Pavel Durov was in Francisco in 2014. He went into exile after he clashed with the president of the Russian government called President Vladimir V. Putin.
Here is more information on Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov:
The founder of Telegram named Mr. Pavel Durov is currently in exile. However, in the recent past, he was seen as the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia. When he was 33, Mr. Durov began a social network called VKontakte. It happened in 2006 when Russia appeared to have a future as a haven for web freedom. In some ways, it became more liberal than the United States. After a decade, he chose to leave his country after he clashed with the government of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Durov sold VKontakte that shared the feel and look of Facebook that was more famous in Russia. In 2014, he left the country with a report $300 million in his pocket. When he was abroad, he started Telegram and hoped to offer a service to people who became worried about their privacy.
Since he left Russia, Mr. Durov was able to roam the world with a core team of Telegram engineers. He recently spent time in Dubai. Mr. Durov also has a passport from a nation in the Caribbean called St. Kits and Nevis.
So, could it be watertight?
Telegram makes use of end-to-end encryption like Signal and WhatsApp. It is an encryption type that converts the messages into a code that may become nearly impossible to gain access to communication between a couple of users without their consent in the absence of a server in the middle.
According to Mr. Woodward, Telegram utilizes its secure messaging protocol that they call the MTProto. The system’s robustness is up for debate. No one may be aware of how it works, and there is a lot of security analysis on it that suggests that it may not be as secure as some people think it would be.
The app’s protocol has severe and straightforward issues according to an analysis made by the researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They added that any security expert who is knowledgeable could penetrate these weaknesses.
Mr. Woodward also claims that Telegram also has a lot of metadata leaks. Information like who is calling who, when, how long and those types of things can become useful for any intelligence organization. Unlike this, Signal can barely retain any information from their users.
A balance of privacy and security
Some of the most significant user bases of Telegram are in Russia and Iran. These are the actual countries who tried to block the application. Some people who use this in these countries also use VPNs or virtual private networks to hide their geographical location so they can circumvent any restrictions.
According to Mr. Woodward, the jurisdictions that are blocking it are not the Western democracies that usually allow people to talk securely.
Demonstrations in Russia against the blocking of the app included prominent opposition figures like a member of the feminist collective Pussy Riot named Maria Alyokhina and Aleksei A. Navalny, an anti-corruption activist.
Despite the postures, Mr. Durov was able to push against making concerns about Telegram being a political issue. He regards himself as a tech entrepreneur. Mr. Durov recently told The Financial Times that he is not a philosopher or politician.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Telegram’s plan to launch an Initial Coin Offering or ICO has now gotten scrapped. The messaging app was able to raise enough money in their two private ICO rounds which were why they decided to cancel it.
According to an unnamed source, they told Wall Street Journal that Telegram decided not to hold the planned ICO for the public after they were able to bring in a total of $1.7 billion by mid-March. It came from 81 accredited investors who took part in the initial ICO round and 84 in the second round.
They were able to raise money from the two ICO rounds held which were only open to people whose net worth is at $1 million or an income of $200,000. That will be in use for the support of the development of the Telegram messenger app and the launch of the blockchain platform Telegram Open Network.
There were reports in Cointelegraph earlier that one of their first-round participants was the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. He reportedly invested $300 million. However, his spokesperson denied the $300 million price tag and declined to comment if Abramovich took part in it. Founders of Wimm-Bill-Dan foods and the payment service provider Qiwi named David Yakobashvii, and Sergei Solonin respectively announced in public about their participation in the Telegram ICO.
Recently, the messaging app was able to make news in other ways that crypto. It recently got banned in Russia because of the refusal of its founder, Pavel Dunov, to hand over the encryption keys to the government of Russia. There were reports from the Russian media at the end of April that the ban was because of the Telegram’s association with cryptocurrency through its ICO. However, the Telegram’s spokesperson for their legal representation denied that this was the case.