On May 31st, Pavel Durov, CEO of private messaging app Telegram broadcast on Telegram that Apple was cooperating with a Russian government ban on the app and refusing to allow Telegram users across the globe to upload important updates at iTunes.
“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,” wrote Durov.
“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.”
After a Russian court banned Telegram in an 18-minute trial in mid-April, Russian telecommunications regulator Rozomnadzor reportedly blocked 1.8 million Russian ISP addresses used to transmit private messages using Telegram.
Many unrelated businesses reportedly saw their services disrupted during the ban.
The ban was enacted after Telegram refused to hand over decryption keys for user accounts to Russian secret police.
Rozcomnodzar also blocked 15 million IP addresses routing encrypted messages for the chat app Zello in March, and have attempted to block Zello’s online radio services more than 70 times.
Less than 24 hours after Durov went public claiming that Apple was cooperating with Russia, Apple reportedly relented and began servicing Telegram updates again.
Durov thanked Tim Cook on Twitter “for letting us deliver the latest version of Telegram to millons of users, despite recent setbacks.”
The Tweet got 9000 likes.
Durov was previously the victim of state intimidation in Russia, and he and his brother were successfully pressured into giving up control of the popular Russian Facebook-style site they developed. Both brothers now live in exile.