Telegram’s Pavel Durov announced on Tuesday that he has been paying network administers with bitcoin to successfully bypass a government ban on his messaging app.
Durov, the app’s creator, announced in his Telegram Channel on Tuesday that he had created bitcoin rewards for administrators running virtual private networks (VPNs) and other proxy services to let users gain access to the platform after the Russian government banned Telegram for its refusal to share private messages.
Even though losing Russia-based users would not impact the platform in a major way, Durov maintained, “It’s important for me personally to make sure we do everything we can for our Russian users.”
“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.”
Durov made the decision after Internet service providers started banning Telegram on Monday. Although the ban has been in place for more than 24 hours, Telegram has not registered a significant drop in usage, partly because of existing VPN and proxy services, and also due to third-party cloud services that allow users to connect to the app.
The ban on Telegram’s services may be lifted once the company turns over its encryption keys to Russia’s security agencies, Durov said. However, he insisted that, “We promised our users 100% privacy and would rather cease to exist than violate this promise.”