Russia's political ban on Telegram has Apple blocking GDPR updates to infamous messenger

Posted:
in iOS edited May 2018
Russia's persistent demand that Apple shut down Telegram has a side-effect of no update to the app for GDPR compliance in the UK.

Telegram app


Continuing its attempts to shut down Telegram in the country, Russia's Roskomnadzor claims it sent a letter to Apple "demanding to stop the distribution of the Telegram Messenger app in the App Store, as well as sending its service push notifications to Russian users."

The letter asks Apple to inform the regulator about any possible actions the company can perform to curtail the app's usage in the country. Notably the letter also advises that this needs to be done as quickly as possible "to avoid possible actions by Roscomnadzor to disrupt the functioning of the above services," referring to the App Store itself.

"Because Apple, like other transnational companies, is a company with a high degree of red tape, we expect the reply within a month," said Roskomnadzor's director Alexander Zharov, reports Wccftech. When pressed on what could happen to Apple if it fails to comply, Zharov suggested "For now, I would not like to forecast further actions."

The demand is a continuation of efforts by the Russian government to prevent the Russian-developed service from operating, after the company behind the app declined to provide the FSB, the country's domestic spy agency, with encryption keys for the service. Pavel Durov, an executive for Telegram, previously argued "privacy is not for sale" and that "human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed over the matter.

Users in the country have been able to access Telegram by using virtual private networks, but the government is able to shut them down if access to banned services are provided. Previous efforts by Rskomnadzor to curtail its usage includes blocks placed against Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, halting communications for users who do not use VPNs or other workarounds.

In April, the regulator wrote to Apple and Google for the first time to stop distribution of the app through their respective online stores. The regulator advises it is currently in discussions with Google about the banning the app in the country, but didn't say about its current situation with Apple.

While Telegram is still available to download from the App Store in Russia, it does appear that pressure from the regulator is already affecting the app. In a notice about implementing the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Telegram states it has not been able to update the iOS app globally since mid-April, coinciding with the first regulatory request.

Apple did temporarily block Telegram from the App Store in February, citing the distribution of "inappropriate content," later confirmed to be child pornography.

Apple does have a history of pulling apps from the App Store to comply with censorship requests, as well as other privacy related changes to services, so long as they follow the country's laws. In the case of China, it has pulled VPN apps from the regional App Store, and has transferred control of Chinese iCloud data to a local company to comply with cybersecurity laws, an act which critics believe puts the data within easy reach of the government.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    but MSM will have you believe that everything in Russia is controlled or linked to the Kremlin and Putin is in charge of everything? This seems to suggest Telegram is Russian, yet NOT controlled by Putin, mind blown! /s :trollface: 

    Is it standard practice that developers only submit 1 single app to cover all regions and languages? 
  • Reply 2 of 21
    leavingthebiggleavingthebigg Posts: 1,291member
    adm1 said:
    but MSM will have you believe that everything in Russia is controlled or linked to the Kremlin and Putin is in charge of everything? This seems to suggest Telegram is Russian, yet NOT controlled by Putin, mind blown! /s :trollface: 

    Is it standard practice that developers only submit 1 single app to cover all regions and languages? 
    One app usually suffices due to including resource bundles in the app to support multiple languages, icons for multiple regions, etc. The app can respond to language/region settings in configured in Settings. 
  • Reply 3 of 21
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
  • Reply 4 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,515member
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    Is iMessage also blocked in Russia? It should be if they haven't turned over decryption keys to the government, correct? 
  • Reply 5 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,330member
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    edited May 2018 jbdragonrcfaSpamSandwichlostkiwibeowulfschmidtminicoffeebadmonkurahara
  • Reply 6 of 21
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    adm1 said:
    but MSM will have you believe that everything in Russia is controlled or linked to the Kremlin and Putin is in charge of everything? This seems to suggest Telegram is Russian, yet NOT controlled by Putin, mind blown! /s :trollface: 
    Telegram was started by one of the founders of VK the Russian “Facebook”, after the Kremlin forced him out to gain control.
    He moved to Germany and launched Telegram as a non-profit to help communication privacy; since Telegram is rather efficient at achieving its goals, it has become a target of the Russian government.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    gatorguy said:
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    Is iMessage also blocked in Russia? It should be if they haven't turned over decryption keys to the government, correct? 
    Russia has a special Ax to grind with Telegram, and iPhones are to expensive for most Russians, so cross-platform Telegram is much more of a “threat” to the Russian government.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course i “get it”. Thats not the point. The point is that Apple(and i’m an apple user) always preaches the moral, ethical & environmental high ground...and yet they seem to forget those morals when dealing with other countries. I would argue that countries like China would have a lot to lose if Apple pulled out of their country. It’s not like Apple doesn’t have any leverage when it comes to walking their talk around the world. I would respect them a lot more if they didn’t always cave when dealing with the likes of China or other countries. I think it undermines their credibility. Yes, America is a different country than China. But when Apple as a company takes such strong moral, ethical & environmental positions on a global scale... it should transcend “business”. And that is what Tim Cook preaches...but then they bend those morals to accomodate the likes of China & Russia. 
    tallest skil
  • Reply 9 of 21
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 964member
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It's a different kind of privacy so a bad comparison.

    Apple hasn't unlocked iPhones without a warrant. Removing apps from the app store is quite different. Russia and China are claiming the apps are in violation of their laws.

    This is more like the US Government banning Kinder Surprise eggs from sale (or border entry) in the US. Sort of. Or old school bans on porn maybe? Hoverboards!
    Kopfschmerzen
  • Reply 10 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,330member
    gatorguy said:
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course everyone gets "following the law", and Apple should... in every country they operate in.

    Do you "get" Apple is not obligated to do business in any country where the laws would require they walk back from their stated privacy ethos? Of course you do. When presented with the choice of aggressively defending the privacy of Apple users, a point of light shining on the fight against government intrusion, or the pursuit of more profit requiring softening or outright abandoning that stance at least in part, which have they been choosing lately?

    What will be of most interest is how they handle the upcoming change to technologies that no longer make decryption keys useful, access to user data will truly no longer be possible and Apple can honestly claim not to have the ability to do so if ordered. Will the Chinese and Russians (or others) accept it without repercussions? Will Apple handle those countries differently if the only option otherwise is to walk away? At some point the line that Apple won't cross should become apparent. 
    None of that has anything to do with my comment. The person I replied to suggested Apple “bends over backwards to help Russia & China” and suggested this was hypocritical since they won’t voluntarily create backdoors for the FBI. This is a false equivalence and untrue. They comply with the law (ex about VPNs and iCloud) in China. That doesn’t mean they’re bending over backwards, nor does it mean they should voluntarily create a backdoor for the FBI when the law here does not require it. 
    radarthekaturahara
  • Reply 11 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,330member

    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course i “get it”. Thats not the point. The point is that Apple(and i’m an apple user) always preaches the moral, ethical & environmental high ground...and yet they seem to forget those morals when dealing with other countries.  
    Incorrect. Complying with the law in countries they operate in has nothing to do with morals and everything to do with obligatory compliance. Complying with the law in one country (China) doesn’t mean they should willingly create backdoors in another country (USA) when the law doesn’t require it, as in your example. I’m quite certain Apple will comply with whatever laws exist in the US, just as they do elsewhere. You’re just citing something they aren’t required to do here as proof that they shouldn’t elsewhere, which is odd. 
  • Reply 12 of 21
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,413member
    What a backwards country!  :(
  • Reply 13 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,515member
    gatorguy said:
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course everyone gets "following the law", and Apple should... in every country they operate in.

    Do you "get" Apple is not obligated to do business in any country where the laws would require they walk back from their stated privacy ethos? Of course you do. When presented with the choice of aggressively defending the privacy of Apple users, a point of light shining on the fight against government intrusion, or the pursuit of more profit requiring softening or outright abandoning that stance at least in part, which have they been choosing lately?

    What will be of most interest is how they handle the upcoming change to technologies that no longer make decryption keys useful, access to user data will truly no longer be possible and Apple can honestly claim not to have the ability to do so if ordered. Will the Chinese and Russians (or others) accept it without repercussions? Will Apple handle those countries differently if the only option otherwise is to walk away? At some point the line that Apple won't cross should become apparent. 
    None of that has anything to do with my comment. The person I replied to suggested Apple “bends over backwards to help Russia & China” and suggested this was hypocritical since they won’t voluntarily create backdoors for the FBI. This is a false equivalence and untrue. They comply with the law (ex about VPNs and iCloud) in China. That doesn’t mean they’re bending over backwards, nor does it mean they should voluntarily create a backdoor for the FBI when the law here does not require it. 
    No I don't think Apple bends over backwards at all. In fact I'd imagine they despise doing so and surely would prefer not to. Yet they do. 
  • Reply 14 of 21
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    Of course i “get it”. Thats not the point. The point is that Apple(and i’m an apple user) always preaches the moral, ethical & environmental high ground...and yet they seem to forget those morals when dealing with other countries. I would argue that countries like China would have a lot to lose if Apple pulled out of their country.
    China is a giant market, and they have many domestic smartphone makers.  If Apple doesn't comply with their laws, Apple will be banned, the banned apps will still be unavailable on the now unavailable iPhones, and some leaders will be very happy that they've helped the domestic industry.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,577moderator
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course everyone gets "following the law", and Apple should... in every country they operate in.

    Do you "get" Apple is not obligated to do business in any country where the laws would require they walk back from their stated privacy ethos? Of course you do. When presented with the choice of aggressively defending the privacy of Apple users, a point of light shining on the fight against government intrusion, or the pursuit of more profit requiring softening or outright abandoning that stance at least in part, which have they been choosing lately?

    What will be of most interest is how they handle the upcoming change to technologies that no longer make decryption keys useful, access to user data will truly no longer be possible and Apple can honestly claim not to have the ability to do so if ordered. Will the Chinese and Russians (or others) accept it without repercussions? Will Apple handle those countries differently if the only option otherwise is to walk away? At some point the line that Apple won't cross should become apparent. 
    None of that has anything to do with my comment. The person I replied to suggested Apple “bends over backwards to help Russia & China” and suggested this was hypocritical since they won’t voluntarily create backdoors for the FBI. This is a false equivalence and untrue. They comply with the law (ex about VPNs and iCloud) in China. That doesn’t mean they’re bending over backwards, nor does it mean they should voluntarily create a backdoor for the FBI when the law here does not require it. 
    No I don't think Apple bends over backwards at all. In fact I'd imagine they despise doing so and surely would prefer not to. Yet they do. 

  • Reply 16 of 21
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 300member
    gatorguy said:
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course everyone gets "following the law", and Apple should... in every country they operate in.

    Do you "get" Apple is not obligated to do business in any country where the laws would require they walk back from their stated privacy ethos? Of course you do. When presented with the choice of aggressively defending the privacy of Apple users, a point of light shining on the fight against government intrusion, or the pursuit of more profit requiring softening or outright abandoning that stance at least in part, which have they been choosing lately?

    What will be of most interest is how they handle the upcoming change to technologies that no longer make decryption keys useful, access to user data will truly no longer be possible and Apple can honestly claim not to have the ability to do so if ordered. Will the Chinese and Russians (or others) accept it without repercussions? Will Apple handle those countries differently if the only option otherwise is to walk away? At some point the line that Apple won't cross should become apparent. 
    None of that has anything to do with my comment. The person I replied to suggested Apple “bends over backwards to help Russia & China” and suggested this was hypocritical since they won’t voluntarily create backdoors for the FBI. This is a false equivalence and untrue. They comply with the law (ex about VPNs and iCloud) in China. That doesn’t mean they’re bending over backwards, nor does it mean they should voluntarily create a backdoor for the FBI when the law here does not require it. 
    But if US law is changed to require deposition of "master keys" (which is not an unlikely development considering the current political climate), should Apple comply or should they completely move to peer-only keys? And should they make all iOS code public, to allow for independent inspection and to guarantee there are no backdoors?


  • Reply 17 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,515member

    The CEO of Telegram is not happy about worldwide blocking of updates to the app.


    May 31st on Twitter, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov had this to say:

    Apple stopped approving Telegram for iOS updates globally 1,5 months ago after Russia ordered a block on Telegram. More here – https://t.co/yarcIrV2Bh

    — Pavel Durov (@durov) ;

    Apple 2018 is a shell of its former self. Instead of providing you with empowering tools that respect your privacy it actively blocks companies like @telegram to pander to a authoritarian regime pic.twitter.com/aE5LEj9u56

    — Gabriel Visser (@gvssr)

    edited May 2018
  • Reply 18 of 21
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Please explain why Telegram is being characterized as “infamous”?
    edited May 2018
  • Reply 19 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power.
    It’s truly funny that you actually believe that.


    What a backwards country!  :(
    I wonder if you’ll say the same about the European Union’s forthcoming ban on posting links to websites. Yeah, that’s what I said.
    edited May 2018
  • Reply 20 of 21
    uraharaurahara Posts: 690member
    I find it funny how Apple fights privacy rights so strongly here in the US, not even bending to pressure from the police or FBI in cracking into iphones...yet bends over backwards to help Russia & China crack down on privacy there. Shouldn’t they make it equally hard on ALL of them? 
    It’s not surprising at all. We’re a country of law and order, our citizens and corporate citizens alike have rights and our branches of government (like the FBI) have restrictions to their power. That isn’t the case in dictatorships and totalitarian states like Russia and China. But in any state Apple has to follow the law; thankfully we have better laws here.

    Get it?
    Of course i “get it”. Thats not the point. The point is that Apple(and i’m an apple user) always preaches the moral, ethical & environmental high ground...and yet they seem to forget those morals when dealing with other countries. I would argue that countries like China would have a lot to lose if Apple pulled out of their country. It’s not like Apple doesn’t have any leverage when it comes to walking their talk around the world. I would respect them a lot more if they didn’t always cave when dealing with the likes of China or other countries. I think it undermines their credibility. Yes, America is a different country than China. But when Apple as a company takes such strong moral, ethical & environmental positions on a global scale... it should transcend “business”. And that is what Tim Cook preaches...but then they bend those morals to accomodate the likes of China & Russia. 
    You don’t. In a sense how the business owner even with strong moral codes would get it. You get it just partially. US law does not require to comply with FBI ruling. China’s law require to comply with the request pulling down VPN apps. Closing business in China or Russia won’t benefit anyone. You suggestion for Apple to quit Chinese market and close the business there is naíve and childish.
    edited June 2018
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