Apple Accused of Blocking Updates to Telegram App

Apps and Software

An Apple Store in New York City. / Photo by: Marlith via Wikimedia Commons


Paul Durov, the founder of the Telegram messaging app, denounced Apple for hindering updates to its messaging app. The technology giant reportedly bowed to Russian pressure to have the Telegram app withdrawn from the Apple App Store, according to Adam Satariano and Ivan Nechepurenko, reporting for The New York Times. 

Telegram is embroiled in a protracted struggle with the Russian government that wants to have the messaging service shut down for its failure to cooperate with Russian authorities in intercepting messages sent through its platform.  

Durov had issued a statement on Telegram’s official channel, saying Telegram was banned in Russian territory after it refused a request from Russia’s security agencies to hand over decryption keys for all their users’ communications. Durov added that it was the only decent thing to do -- preserving the rights to privacy of their users in that troubled country.

Russia had repeatedly said that Telegram is a threat because Russian extremists use the app to coordinate their efforts. On the other hand, Russian human rights activists claim the move is an attempt to limit freedom and is the first step in a bigger plan to introduce online censorship in Russia. 

Durov’s charges are significant because Apple CEO Tim Cook had placed supreme importance on the privacy of encrypted communication. They also add weight to criticisms that Apple easily gives in to the demands of governments in key overseas markets. For example, in 2017, Apple removed apps from its App Store that allowed users to circumvent China’s online censorship through virtual private networks after being prodded by the Chinese government. 

He claimed that because of Apple’s inaction it could not update its software for all of its users worldwide since mid-April 2018, even if users from Russia accounted for only 7 percent of its user base. As a result, it was not able to comply with the European Union’s new privacy rules.