Telegram is a growing instant messaging app, but not every country is feeling the love.
It’s banned in Iran, China, India, and Pakistan. It was also previously blocked in Russia before the restriction was lifted in 2020.
Why Telegram Was Blocked
After Edward Snowden alleged the NSA was spying on Americans, the public’s perception of institutions would never be the same.
With distrust of institutions and tech giants at an all-time-high, many people began to look into alternative apps like Telegram. They started using the app because they were concerned that they were being surveilled.
In fact, Telegram was born out of distrust for governments, server authorities, and the big players in social media.
When governments found out about the type of users Telegram was attracting, some clearly weren’t impressed.
Several countries labeled it as a political tool or as a threat to national security. Iran and Russia have specified that the Islamic State used it to organize terrorism plots, spread propaganda, and communicate with foreign governments.
How to Unblock Telegram
Do you live in a country that has blocked Telegram? Did you try to use the app at school or work only to find it’s blocked by the administrator?
The easiest, most reliable way to unblock Telegram is to use a VPN. A virtual private server allows you to hide your current location and replace it with another location of your choice. For example, people in Iran can change their IP address to one that is associated with the United States. Thus, you’ll be able to bypass the restriction and access the app.
There are a lot of solid VPN services out there, plus they’re all more affordable than ever. At LetMeBy we aim to only recommend the best to our visitors.
These are our go-to fast, secure VPNs:
Telegram’s Privacy and Security: Strong Enough?
According to the software developer themselves Telegram messages are always securely encrypted. Secret Chat messages use client-client encryption. Cloud Chats use client-server/server-client encryption and data is safely stored in the Telegram Cloud.
Critics have noted that while Telegram messages are encrypted, the method used to achieve this is suspect. It uses closed source encryption which is considered inferior by many leading security experts.
Additionally, Telegram messages are not encrypted by default. You have to enable this feature. Founder Pavel Durov wrote about why it’s a myth that messengers like WhatsApp are better because they use “end-to-end encrypted by default”, while Telegram does not.
Tensions Lead to Durov’s Creation
Telegram founder Pavel Durov, was once dubbed “Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg” for creating a widely used website similar to Facebook for Russian citizens.
He fled Russia with $300 million due to clashes with Putin’s government. It was during this time in self-exile that Durov started programming Telegram. He created it specifically to give users better privacy and security when messaging.
The Yarovaya law, which requires Russian telecom operators to keep all voice and messaging traffic of their customers for half a year went into effect in July of 2018.
Management at Telegram couldn’t comply with the new law. They stated it was technically impracticable to provide transcripts of secret chats since they weren’t stored on the user’s devices or on Telegram’s servers.
Consequently, later in 2018 the Russian government began blocking Telegram. The ban was lifted in 2020 after Telegram agreed to help with extremism investigations.
Many users swear by Telegram and think it’s much safer-to-use than competitors like Facebook Messenger. Ultimately this camp prefers to trust Telegram founders Nikolai and Pavel Durov than to trust Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
Others have pointed out that Telegram’s closed source encryption method is not as strong as their competitors. So, if you’re a fan of the app but want to be extra safe you may want to enable a VPN to add an additional layer of encryption.