Digital Resistance: Telegram to Use Bitcoin to Bypass Russia’s Ban

News and Analysis

Telegram founder and CEO, Pavel Durov, has announced that he recently started issuing bitcoin grants to individuals and companies that ran socks5 proxies and VPNs, and that he plans to donate millions of dollars this year alone in order to fund such technologies which circumvent government bans on his Telegram messaging service.

Following a ban issued by a Russian court last week, Durov took to his Telegram channel to announce:

“To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN. I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance – a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.”

Earlier Pavel Durov stated that ‘privacy is not for sale’.

Durov made several other points in his post; firstly, he thanked Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft for not “taking part in political censorship” – presumably because they kept Telegram available for download in Russia through their app stores.

He also stated that Russians make up 7% of the entire Telegram user base and if they do get forced off the service, that other regions growth would replace the lost users in just a couple of months.

“Russia accounts for ~7% of the Telegram user base, and even if we lose that entire market, Telegram’s organic growth in other regions will compensate for this loss within a couple of months,” Pavel Durov stressed. “However, it is important for me personally to make sure we do everything we can for our Russian users.”

The decision came after internet service providers began banning Telegram on Monday, he added.

Though the ban has been in place for more than 24 hours, the service has not seen any significant drop in usage, partly due to existing VPN and proxy services, and also because third-party cloud services which are allowing users to connect to the platform.

Telegram made headlines in recent months when the company announced it was going to raise funds in what could be the largest Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to date. The company has reportedly collected $1.7 billion as of today and intends to create its own decentralized ecosystem using the funds, as previously reported.

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