Apple was placed between the encrypted news app Telegram and the Russian government on Thursday in the midst of a long-running dispute that tried to shut down the service, refusing to help Moscow communicate through its platform , 19659002] Telegram founder Pavel Durov accused Apple of no longer having the messaging service software globally updated after the Russian authorities ordered the iPhone maker to remove telegrams from Apple's App Store. The app got into conflict with the Russian authorities because they refused to cooperate with the country's security agencies.
The compromises are in contrast to Apple's dealings with authorities in the United States. In 201
"Russia banned Telegram on its territory in April for refusing to provide decryption keys for all communications from our users to the Russian security authorities." Mr. Durov said in a statement to his official Telegram channel. "We believe we've done the only thing possible to protect our users' right to privacy in a troubled country."
"Unfortunately, Apple has not left us," he continued.
A Russian citizen, Mr Durov left the country in 2014 after losing control of Vkontakte, Russia's popular competitor to Facebook. In 2013, he founded Telegram, selling it as one of the few remaining ways of communicating while avoiding the intelligence services. The app was especially popular in Russia and Iran, where it was also blocked . In March, the company announced that Telegram had reached 200 million active users per day
. Durov said that while Russia accounts for only about 7 percent of Telegram's user base, Apple's move effectively prevented it from updating software for all its users worldwide since mid-April. He said that this meant that Telegram was also unable to comply with the new data protection provisions introduced in the European Union last week.
An Apple spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Mr. Durov.
The situation highlights the chaotic gatekeeper role that Apple plays, with the App Store alongside the Google Play Store being the primary feature that allows users to download apps. Apple is caught between the interests of encrypted messaging apps, such as Telegram and Signal, that prevent anyone from intercepting communication between users and governments that need access to messages to identify security risks and other issues.
The Russian authorities I have repeatedly said that Telegram is a threat and claims that extremists use it to coordinate their efforts. Russian human rights activists and many otherwise apolitical users saw the move as an attempt by the Kremlin to restrict freedoms and merely to take the first step in a broader plan to introduce online censorship.
The communications guard of the Russian government, Roskomnadzor, tried to block Telegram since the end of April, when a Moscow court cleared the way for it. The agency went to court after the app refused to share its encryption keys with the Russian security services.
So far, attempts to close Telegram have been clumsy as the app was available on many devices in Russia, including some that began using virtual private networks or VPNs to hide their geographic location from authorities.
To prevent access to the app, the Russian authorities took the unusual step of shutting down entire sections of the Russian Internet. Many small organizations, including language schools and museums, were blocked as collateral damage.