Russian efforts to force Durov, who’s based in Dubai, to hand over his encryption keys last April resulted in protests and mass ridicule. Authorities tried to pull the plug on Telegram in Russia, but ended up bringing down hundreds of unrelated sites in the process, including retailers, banks and airline-ticketing systems.
“Putting monitoring boxes on every node may slow down not only the Runet, but the global internet”
The Runet went largely unregulated in the early years of the Putin era as the Kremlin focused on bringing to heel the most influential media outlets of the time, which were in broadcasting and print. But censorship has been systematically tightened, particularly since nationwide protests erupted in late 2011, when then-premier Putin announced his return to the presidencyRussia now censors a variety of topics online, often under the pretext of rooting out “extremism.” It also blocks foreign companies like LinkedIn and Zello that refuse to locate servers inside the country. In total, about 80,000 sites are currently blacklisted, according to Roskomsvoboda, a Moscow-based group that campaigns against online restrictions.