Apple has finally approved an updated version of the Telegram iOS app, after the secure messaging company’s chief executive complained yesterday that the iPhone maker was blocking updates worldwide due to a Telegram ban in Russia. The news was announced on Twitter by Telegram CEO Pavel Durov.
The Russian government first ordered a ban on Telegram back in mid-April, citing Telegram’s refusal in an ongoing court battle to hand over encryption keys that would allow the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) access to sensitive user data. The ban has proved troublesome for Telegram, as it’s led to the blocking of millions of IPs on Amazon and Google’s cloud platforms and requests from the Russia government that American companies, like Apple, pull the software from their respective app stores.
Apple, it seems, did not pull Telegram from the Russia version of the App Store. That led Russian authorities to send a supposedly legally binding letter to the company yesterday demanding it remove the app within one month or face some type of punishment for violating local law.
But regardless, Apple was for some reason blocking Telegram iOS updates from as far back as March from going out worldwide, and not just for users in Russia. That was a big issue, Telegram’s Durov pointed out, because it meant the iOS version of the app was not compliant with the European Union’s new GDPR privacy law that went into effect last week. Being in violation of GDPR could result in steep fines.
“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 wrote in a public Telegram message yesterday. “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.”
After Durov sounded the alarm over the situation, Apple apparently let Telegram’s iOS app first update in months go through. In his announcement of the successful update, Durov thanked Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, for allowing the updates to go through, “despite the recent setbacks.” We don’t yet know what’s going to happen to the Russia version of Telegram for iOS, but suffice to say that Durov and his company still have a fight on their hands with the Russian government going forward.