Russia bans Zello’s walkie-talkie app

Russia's ongoing campaign to block social apps during the invasion of Ukraine now includes voice clients. ZDNetreports Russia's telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has banned the walkie-talkie app Zello over claims users were spreading "false information" about the invasion (which Russia falsely labels a "special operation"). Officials said they asked Zello to block transmissions of the offending messages on March 4th, but that it "did not comply" with the request.

Russia blocked Zello in 2017 after it didn't obey a 2016 law requiring storage of user and chat data inside the country. Zello defied the move, developing a workaround that kept the software usable. The app has been popular among protesters despite its work-oriented focus. Before the invasion of Ukraine, vaccine mandate opponents in Canada and elsewhere used Zello to coordinate their protests.

The crackdown was virtually expected. Russia has rushed to cut access to numerous major social platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, while also making it illegal for media outlets to share anything beyond the Putin administration's official narrative on Ukraine. Zello has also surged in popularity since the invasion started. The ban theoretically helps Russia silence political dissent, especially when it involves coordination between Ukrainians and sympathetic Russians.

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