Is there a real threat to the most anonymous and private messenger, and where is Telegram’s office actually located? Anton Tsouman reports.
Former security expert for Telegram, the most anonymous and private messenger, Anton Rosenberg now says hi to his ex-neighbors from VKontakte social media website. According to him, until quite recently the software development had been going on nearby, in Zinger’s house. At a company, the name of which only one letter of difference - LLC «TELEGRAPH».
Anton Rosenberg, LLC «TELEGRAPH» former employee: «The third floor is where we mostly were. Basically, this is what Telegraph used to have, maybe they’ve re-registered everything now, I don’t know. But now they have the third floor, the sixth and a piece of the fourth floor».
A persona feud between Durov and Rosenberg ended up in Rosenberg’s dismissal, and turned into a huge scandal. But one interesting detail has drawn experts’ attention - Telegram was being developed in Russia, in Saint-Petersburg. Just a couple of kilometers away from Liteynyi, 4.
Anton Tsouman, reporter: «Essentially, Telegram is a messenger, an app designed to send and receive messages. It’s main distinction from hundreds of similar apps is, as developers claim, very high resistance to hacks, as well as secret conversations, which can not be seen by anyone but it’s participants.
Which is why, unsurprisingly, secret services from all over the world have been seeking access to Telegram’s data. And the messenger’s creator Pavel Durov has said multiple times he would not going to grant such access to anyone.
So the information about a certain building on Nevskyi avenue, where one of the most enclosed and private messengers is being developed, is really a gift for a secret service - says digital expert Vyacheslav Semenchuk.
Vyacheslav Semenchuk, creator of the first jewish cryptocurrency BITCOEN: «This is what we need to understand. That if the app’s developers, servers, or the company executives, in this case a big part of the team, are located in a particular country, in Russia this can lead to a possibility for the government to get an actual access, as these guys are physically here».
«Telegraph» accused Rosenberg of disclosure of confidential information and sued him for 100 million rubles. It is unclear if he is actually linked to uncovering the company’s secret location. But knowing Pavel Durov’s passion for marketing scandals, some experts consider this lawsuit being just another PR move.
Anton Vuyma, PR specialist: «One of the theories is that this counter-claim, which he had made, has been just a PR campaign for Telegram. Because before that Telegram has built it’s PR on the fact that allegedly it was supposed to be banned in Russia, urgently. And this has been Telegram’s active PR campaign for almost two weeks. Now everyone’s talking about those lawsuits. So possibly he filed this lawsuit just to bring it up».
Officially, the headquarters of the developing company Telegram LLP belongs to Pavel Durov, and is located in this building on Shelton Street in London. But we went further. Here are extracts from a register of legal entities. They say, that a founder of Telegram and «Telegraph» is the same south American offshore company. To find out these companies’ secrets, we went straight to Zinger’s house.
Not losing our hope, we go to Liteyniy 51 A - LLC «Telegraph» legal address. There we find out that the actual address of this building is - Fontanka 34A. A palace of studying youth. Where no one is aware of any LLC whatsoever.
As many experts vividly noticed, the image of absolute safety, privacy and non-publicity is Telegram’s Achilles heel. And if a reputation of the most safe and anonymous messenger won’t prove itself, a significant number of it’s 100 million users would be gone forever.
Alexandr Pechyonkin, cyber security expert: «There’s no doubt, that Telegram positions itself as a private, secret messenger. And here it turns out that there’s no anonymity, and everything sort of works in Russia. It would become just the same as other messengers. The same as WhatsApp, Viber - there a lot of them these days. Telegram would be just one of them. It would lose it’s main distinction».
And while there is such distinction, the Zinger’s house gains all attention from the world of hi-tech. Secrets of the most private and anonymous messenger are kept behind solid curtains of this house - so far.