The App That Russia Has Banned Again: What Is Zello?

Russia: In the Ukraine conflict, some Ukrainians use Zello Walkie Talkie, an app that allows end-to-end encrypted private conversations. To talk to other users, just press and hold a button on the screen.

Zello is one of the apps that these days leads the downloads of the Android Google Play Store and the iOS App Store in Ukraine according to the report by the digital research firm Apptopia.

Zello, the app that Russia has banned again

Russia blocked Zello in 2017 after it failed to obey a 2016 law that required the storage of user and chat data within the country. Zello defied the move, developing a solution that kept the software usable, and the app has been popular with protesters despite its work-oriented approach. Before the Ukraine invasion, opponents of the vaccine mandate in Canada and elsewhere used Zello to coordinate their protests.

Five years after that first ban and in the midst of the war against Ukraine, Russia has started a campaign to block social applications that now includes voice clients. The ZDNet site reports that the Russian telecoms regulator, Roskomnadzor, has again banned the Zello walkie-talkie app, saying its users were spreading “false information” about the invasion (which Russia falsely calls a “special operation”). †

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