Encrypted messaging service Telegram says Apple has stopped it from updating its app since Russia banned the controversial service

  • A court in Moscow has ruled to block the Telegram messaging app in Russia
  • Firm had declined to give state security services access to private conversations
  • App is popular among political activists but has also been used by jihadists

Apple has prevented the Telegram messaging service from updating globally ever since Russia ordered Apple to remove the service from its stores, Telegram’s CEO and founder said on Thursday.

‘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’, Pavel Durov, a pioneer of Russian social media, said in his official Telegram Channel.

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Russia has banned the Telegram messaging app because the company refuses to reveal its encryption key (file picture)

WHAT IS THE TELEGRAM APP? 

 The free application, lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people.

Telegram is especially popular among political activists of all stripes, and is used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists, but has also been used by jihadists.

The app has proved to be incredible popular. 

In March, it announced within the last 30 days, Telegram was used by 200 million people.

‘This is an insane number by any standards,’ the firm said.

‘If Telegram were a country, it would have been the sixth largest country in the world.’

 

 

The ban came to light as apple released iOS11.4, the latest version of its operating system.

‘Unfortunately, some Telegram features, such as stickers, don’t work correctly under iOS 11.4 that was just released – even though we fixed this issue weeks ago,’ said Durov.

‘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 the firm 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,’ said Durov.

‘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. 

The app has been available on iOS devices since 2013

‘We are continuing our efforts to resolve the situation and will keep you updated.’ 

 Earlier this year a court in Moscow ruled to block the popular app after the firm declined to give state security services access to private conversations.

It followed a long-running battle between authorities and Telegram, which has a reputation for secure communications, as Moscow pushes to increase surveillance of internet activities.

In response activists dumped a plastic sack with around 2,000 paper aeroplanes symbolising the logo of the messaging app outside the department of Roskomnadzor in St Petersburg (pictured)

The Roskomnadzor telecoms watchdog, which brought the case, had earlier demanded the service be blocked as soon as the verdict was announced. 

In response activists dumped a plastic sack with around 2,000 paper aeroplanes symbolising the logo of the messaging app inside outside the department of Roskomnadzor in St Petersburg.

The app’s creator Pavel Durov banned lawyers representing Telegram from attending the court hearing so as not to legitimise it.

But Pavel Chikov, who leads a group of human rights lawyers representing the app, said the case had proved the efficacy of the service.

That authorities had brought the case showed that ‘Telegram is by far the safest messenger,’ he said in comments published on the platform.

The authorities also pushed ‘hundreds of thousands of Russian users to study proxies and VPNs’ in an attempt to circumnavigate a potential ban, he said.

Both Chikov and app founder Durov have previously said any ban would be impossible to enforce.

‘(The case) has shown again and again that the judicial system simply serves the interests of power and no longer cares about keeping up even the most basic of appearances,’ the lawyer added.

Telegram’s self-exiled Russian founder Durov has long said he will reject any attempt by the country security’s services to gain backdoor access to the app.

The free application, which lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people, has attracted more than 200 million users since its launch in 2013.

Telegram is especially popular among political activists of all stripes, and is used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists, but has also been used by jihadists.

In September 2017 the FSB security service demanded encryption keys, Durov said, prompting a formal complaint when the request was rejected.

Durov wrote last year that the FSB’s demands are ‘technically impossible to carry out’ and violate the Russian Constitution which entitles citizens to privacy of correspondence.

Roskomnadzor had threatened to ban the app in June last year for failing to join its official register, which requires companies to provide the FSB with information on user interactions.

Although Telegram later registered, it stopped short of agreeing to the regulator’s data storage demands.

From this year, companies on the register must also store all the data of Russian users inside the country, according to controversial anti-terror legislation passed in 2016 which was decried by internet companies and the opposition. 

In September 2017 the FSB security service demanded encryption keys, Durov said, prompting a formal complaint when the request was rejected (pictured: activists in St Petersburg)

Telegram is especially popular among political activists of all stripes, and is used by the Kremlin to communicate with journalists, but has also been used by jihadists

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