Secure messaging app Telegram has gone without iOS updates since mid-April, CEO Pavel Durov has claimed, accusing Apple of blocking updates globally for more than a month. The allegation comes after Russia demanded a ban on Telegram in April, when the app-maker refused to hand over the keys to its encrypted chats.
That access would’ve given Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS) the ability to access and decode any conversations made on Telegram. The messaging app has become popular among protest groups and with other activists, for its ability to secure discussions from prying eyes of surveillance agencies. For that same reason, of course, it has also drawn the ire of those very agencies.
Russia, in fact, is now believed to have requested that Apple remove Telegram from the App Store, in Russia at least. The FSS argues that terrorists have flocked to the messenger app, and that it needs access in order to maintain public order. Critics counter that it would be used as a way to crack down on legitimate protests about the Putin administration.
However, Telegram’s Durov now says, the issue goes beyond just Russian users of the app. Rather than just controlling access in Russia, he alleges, Apple has completely blocked the developer from updating its software worldwide. “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,” Durov said today.
“While Russia makes up only 7 percent of Telegram’s userbase, Apple is restricting updates for all Telegram users around the world since mid-April,” he went on to explain. “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.”
Attention to the lack of upgrades grew after Telegram users complained that some of the app’s features ceased working with the release of iOS 11.4 this week. Stickers, for instance, had been working until Apple pushed out the update. Durov claims Telegram had developed a fix for that “weeks ago” but has been unable to actually distribute it.
Indeed, the last update in the US App Store was version 4.8.1, released two months ago. Apple is yet to comment on Durov’s allegations.