Thursday, May 31, 2018

Apple Hasn’t Blocked Telegram App, But Won’t Allow Updates

Juli Clover:

The Russian government has asked Apple to help it block Telegram, the secure messaging app that’s highly popular in the country, reports WCCFTech.

A Russian court in April ordered carriers and internet providers in the country to block Telegram back in April, after Telegram refused to provide Russia with backdoor access to user messages.

Mitchel Broussard:

As this unfolds, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov posted an update for users early this morning in an effort to explain why some features “don’t work correctly under iOS 11.4" (via ArsTechnica).

According to Durov, Apple has been “preventing” the Telegram iOS app from updating on a global scale, dating back to when Russia banned the app in April. Durov says that his company chose to do the “only possible thing” and refused to provide Russia with decryption keys to access user messages, “preserving the right of our users privacy in a troubled country.”

Apple wouldn’t have to be in the middle here if it let customers download apps directly from the developer.

Previously: Apple Removes LinkedIn App From Russian App Store, Apple Pulls VPN Apps From China App Store, Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Chinese App Store.

Update (2018-05-31): See also: Hacker News.

Update (2018-06-02): Juli Clover:

Telegram today received its first update in two months after an App Store update lockout caused by a dispute with the Russian government and Apple.


Amid this dispute, Apple was apparently refusing all Telegram app updates dating back to mid-April. This situation caused certain Telegram features, like stickers, to break with the launch of iOS 11.4, and it prevented Telegram from complying with new GDPR rules in the European Union.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I don’t understand the purported connection between being banned in Russia and Apple not allowing updates. The NYT report handwaves furiously past this.

So what about iMessage? Either Russia doesn't mind that terrorists/citizens can just use iMessage instead (unlikely), or Apple has already provided a backdoor to the Russian authorities... Which is it Apple?

The whole thing about blocking updates to Telegram stinks, but as discussed in the Hacker News thread, it is an inevitable consequence of Apple's closed App Store model clashing with business interests.

While I'm at it: I think Tim Cook is a miser who cares only about Apple's bottom line. I'm not surprised he would choose profit over freedom-of-speech.

It looks like the news is a bit over blown.
Apple allowed Telegram for Mac to be updated on May 28 in MAS.
So in principle it does not seem that Apple is intentionally blocking it.

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