Telegram CEO Says Apple Has Been 'Preventing' iOS App Updates Since Russia's Ban in April

Thursday May 31, 2018 8:15 AM PDT by Mitchel Broussard

In April, the Russian government banned secure messaging app Telegram and this month asked Apple to remove it from the iOS App Store completely in the country, citing the potential for terrorist communication via the app since Telegram refused to allow Russia to read user messages. 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."


He continued by stating, "Unfortunately, Apple didn't side with us." The CEO says Apple's restricting of Telegram dates back to mid-April and while Russia represents a small subset of its user base (7 percent), Apple's actions affect all Telegram users around the world. Because of this, the launch of iOS 11.4 on Tuesday has broken some Telegram features like stickers, and caused the company to miss its deadline for compliance with the GDPR for users in the European Union.

Apple has been preventing Telegram from updating its iOS apps globally ever since the Russian authorities ordered Apple to remove Telegram from the App Store. Russia banned Telegram on its territory in April because we refused to provide decryption keys for all our users’ communications to Russia’s security agencies. We believe we did the only possible thing, preserving the right of our users to privacy in a troubled country.

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t side with us. While Russia makes up only 7% of Telegram’s userbase, Apple is restricting updates for all Telegram users around the world since mid-April. As a result, we’ve also been unable to fully comply with GDPR for our EU-users by the deadline of May 25, 2018. We are continuing our efforts to resolve the situation and will keep you updated.

By missing the deadline, Telegram users in Europe won't have the same level of security and privacy in comparison to compliant apps, and a lack of updates could put the platform at a higher risk of vulnerability. Apple has yet to comment on the issue or explain its stance, but Durov hopes to "resolve the situation" soon as the company continues its efforts to get the iOS app up to date for all users.

This is far from the first time Telegram has been in hot water with both Apple and Russia. Earlier in February, Apple pulled Telegram from the App Store due to reports of "inappropriate content" being hosted on the messaging service, but it made a return a few hours after disappearing, once Telegram put additional protections in place.

For Russia, the government previously threatened a ban on Telegram last summer after repeated efforts to obtain more information about the company were ignored. While seemingly innocuous, Russia's request for a "form with information" on Telegram would effectively add the company to the state regulators' registry, further requiring Telegram to retain users' chats and to share encryption keys with Russian authorities if asked. Similar requests date back to 2014.

As of writing, Telegram Messenger for iOS was last updated on March 24, 2018.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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24 months ago
This is the kind of stuff that makes me lose trust in a platform. Why is Apple trying to undermine Telegram? Nobody even seems to have an answer as to the reasons.

Knowing that any time my favorite app might be nuked because Apple has some issue with it makes me feel less trusting in the company. They should be open about why Telegram isn't being updated, and work with the developers to get the app approved.

Even if you don't use Telegram, pay attention, because your favorite app or platform might be next. At least with Android you can side-load, so they are less affected. I don't want to run Android though. My investment is in iOS and MacOS.

EDIT: If Durov is lying about the reasons Apple is holding back the app, then all bets are off. I suppose all we can do is speculate; hopefully this mess will be resolved soon. Either way, legitimate side-loading would be a great thing for iOS.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
I'd been wondering why the Telegram app had been stagnating so badly and was so broken with 11.4. I was blaming Telegram, but I guess it's more appropriate to blame Apple.

Hopefully now that this is starting to make waves online, Apple will allow an update through.

I've been an iPhone user since 2008 but Apple's behavior lately with the app store is really making me consider switching to Android.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Telegram is cross platform, iMessage isn’t. This is why people would use Telegram.


Not only is it cross platform, but it's one of the best implemented messaging systems around. All clients stay in perfect sync all the time, and it's fast as hell. The same can't be said for Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
I don't believe Durov. Apple is not the kind of company to bend over for Russians.
Most likely the app was rejected for some violation of store guidelines and the request from Russia is just a coincidence. And now Durov is trying to force Apple to give Telegram a free pass by accusing them of censorship.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Unless iMessage is blocked in Russia, why would anyone need to use Telegram?... unless iMessage really isn't unbreakably encrypted as Apple claims it to be.

More features plus you can also talk to Android users and people on Windows and Linux PCs.

I love Telegram and use it to talk to people even though they have iMessage. It's just so much nicer.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

I don't believe Durov. Apple is not the kind of company to bend over for Russians.
Most likely the app was rejected for some violation of store guidelines and the request from Russia is just a coincidence. And now Durov is trying to force Apple to give Telegram a free pass by accusing them of censorship.

sure :). the only important thing for Apple is $ :). have you heard about Apple in China? Apple is just talking bullsh*t about freedom of speech etc., but they are able to forget everything they say for the sake of $ and possibility of losing a market.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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