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Hardware Wallets Will Inspire Privacy Tech Revolution Says Telegram’s Pavel Durov

Last Updated April 17, 2024 3:08 PM
James Morales
Last Updated April 17, 2024 3:08 PM

Key Takeaways

  • In an interview with Tucker Carlson, Telegram founder Pavel Durov said future communication devices could draw inspiration from cryptocurrency hardware wallets.
  • Durov’s concerns around surveillance have been exacerbated by his own experience with intelligence agencies.
  • The Telegram founder said US spy agencies pressured him and his employees to compromise the platform’s privacy.

Physical hardware wallets are often touted as the gold standard for digital asset custody and are trusted by the most security-conscience cryptocurrency holders. The rationale behind this preference for hard wallets is that computers and smartphones are vulnerable to attack and can never be as secure as a dedicated device.

So why don’t we also use dedicated devices for secure encrypted communications? In a recent interview  with Tucker Carlson, Telegram founder Pavel Durov predicted that one day we will.

Surveillance and Communication Devices

In the interview, Durov said he expects “secure hardware communication devices will be created in a similar way that now we have hardware wallets to store your cryptocurrency.”

The comment was made in the context of a discussion about surveillance in which the Telegram owner expressed his lack of faith in the security of existing products.

“I assume by default that the devices I use are compromised,” he emphasized, explaining that he had experienced first-hand the lengths US intelligence agencies will go to surveil private communications

US Spy Agencies Pressured Telegram to Introduce Backdoors

According to Durov, one of the reasons Telegram opted not to set up shop in the US was because of the pressure intelligence agencies placed on him and his employees when they visited the country.

“Last time I was in the US […] there was an attempt to secretly hire my engineer behind my back,” he claimed.

“They were trying to persuade him to use certain open-source tools that he would integrate into Telegram’s code,” he said, adding that the tools he understood the tools “would serve as backdoors,” to let the US government spy on Telegram users.

Durov’s latest interview is part of his long-running campaign to depict Telegram as a secure, private messenger app. However, critics have argued that the platform isn’t as private as Durov claims.

Are Telegram Messages Private?

Although Telegram is branded as an end-to-end encrypted service, it uses its own encryption protocol which has been criticized  by many in the cryptographic community.

While Durov stated that he has “very limited faith” in the security of platforms developed in the US, at least the open-source Signal protocol used by WhatsApp has been widely studied. But the same can’t be said for Telegram’s MTProto.

What’s more, Durov’s depiction of Telegram as some kind of uncensored free-speech paradise isn’t entirely true either.

Last month, the Russian government disclosed that Telegram cooperates with law enforcement agencies in the country, taking down channels at their request.

“Both Telegram’s management and Pavel Durov himself always react very quickly to incidents and cooperate with law enforcement agencies, including by banning illegal channels,” State Duma Deputy Artem Metelev confirmed.

Several Russian dissidents have also claimed  the government was ably to spy on their private communications on the app not exactly an advertisement for Telegram’s supposedly end-to-end encryption.

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