Telegram will be suing Russia in Strasbourg

The messenger challenged the ECHR for failure to disclose the FSB's encryption keys.
The company Telegram Messenger sent a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the decision of the Meshchansky Court, fined it for 800,000 rubles. For refusing to provide the FSB with encryption keys for user messages. This was reported to "Vedomosti" by the lawyer of "International Agora" Damir Gainutdinov, who represents Telegram in the ECHR.

The complaint states that bringing a company to administrative liability violates the right to freely disseminate information without the interference of the authorities and regardless of state borders, guaranteed by art. 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights. According to the plaintiff, the Russian authorities did not even try to strike a balance between the need to ensure public security and protect the rights of citizens to respect for private life: the FSB required unlimited access to the confidential correspondence of six possible Telegram users without access to judicial acts, guarantees of the security of transmitted information, critical for ensuring the security of correspondence of all users of the service.

Telegram also proves that the national courts have actually entrusted the functions of prosecution. The case affected not only the interests of the company, but also the rights of millions of service users. In such circumstances, the court was obliged to consider the issue of involving the prosecutor and ensure the mandatory participation of the representative of the body that drafted the protocol. Nevertheless, the case, affecting the interests of 100 million people, regarding a foreign company with a capitalization of over $ 1 billion, the peace judge considered alone - in the absence of a defender, a representative of the FSB and the state prosecutor.

In 2015, the ECHR has already acknowledged that Russian legislation is not capable of protecting citizens from unauthorized wiretapping. The head of the Center for the Glasnost Defense Foundation in St. Petersburg, Roman Zakharov, complained that the law obliges operators to install technical equipment to ensure the functions of operative-search activities (the so-called SORM-2). Theoretically, such a decision should entail the reform of the national legislation regulating the issues of secret listening, says Kirill Koroteev, the lawyer of Memorial, who represented Zakharov. But in fact the Russian courts did not even reconsider their refusals to consider Zakharov's lawsuits, and in the meantime the so-called Yarovoi law was adopted, which aggravated the situation. Thus, Telegram is unlikely to have problems with the confirmation of similar arguments, the expert argues. But, in his opinion, in this case it was more logical to appeal to Art. 8 of the Convention, which protects the secrecy of correspondence.


requests for permission to listen to telephone conversations or to remove information from communication channels are satisfied by Russian courts, the International Agora

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The Telegram case is so multifaceted that one complaint will not stop there, Gainutdinov promises. According to him, "the approach" is also the treatment of journalists Oleg Kashin and Alexander Plyushchev, whose petition to the FSB the Meshchansky court refused to consider, and yet the actions of Roskomnadzor and the FSB threaten the secrecy of correspondence, which for journalists is of fundamental importance. In addition, the Supreme Court has a collective claim by Telegram users. According to Gainutdinov, the complaint of Telegram will be one of the first cases in the ECHR touching on the issues of electronic surveillance: "We hope that, from our filing, the court will begin to formulate European standards in this area." The FSB did not respond to Vedomosti's request.