Russia wants Apple to pull Telegram off Russian App Store – or else

“Apple and Russia are locked in a stand-off over the company’s App Store. The Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has asked the US firm to remove the popular messenger app Telegram from the Russian version of the store,” BBC News reports. “Despite attempts by Russian authorities to block the app since mid-April, it remains in widespread use.”

“Roskomnadzor has given Apple a month to reply and it is unclear what will happen if it ignores the request,” The Beeb reports. “Telegram was developed in Russia and is one of the world’s most popular messaging services. It is available on tablets, computers and mobiles, giving users end-to-end encryption. This means only the sender and recipient of messages can see them. Messages remain private from third parties such as the Russian government.”

‘The company left Russia because of the country’s internet regulations and is now based in Dubai,” The Beeb reports. “A privacy expert has said the move marks the ‘ongoing power tussle between big technology companies and nation states.’ ‘I wouldn’t rule out Russia blocking access to the App Store,’ Dr Joss Wright, Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, told the BBC. ‘Of course you would have a lot of annoyed Russian iPhone owners.’ he added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: About what, or whom, is the Russian government afraid that Russian citizens might be talking about in private and why?

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  1. I assume that the MDN question was rhetorical.

    Russia is one of a number of countries that looked to be headed for democracy a few years back that has apparently chosen authoritarianism instead. Turkey, Hungary, and Poland are other examples. Key to any authoritarian state is control of mass communications. Independent journalism has to be labeled as fake news, and opposition media suppressed as enemies of the people.

    Once the print and broadcast media are under the thumb of The Dear Leader, the next step is to suppress social media and personal communications. A wannabe totalitarian state cannot tolerate encrypted messaging because it undercuts the totality of its control. Unfortunately, even a wannabe dictatorship (and Russia has passed that point) has powerful means to control all communications. It can simply denounce encryption as potentially costing more in crime and terrorism than it is worth in social benefit, and pass a law to prohibit it unless the government has access to all the messages with a pretext of due process.

    Once the law is in place, companies like Apple that do business in the jurisdiction will face the choice of either obeying or accepting the penalties for what has become a criminal act.

  2. “About what, or whom, is the Russian government afraid that Russian citizens might be talking about in private and why”? you ask… probably the same stuff that the NSA are interested in, in the US

  3. Time for Apple to be consistent (sarcasm). They pulled VPN apps from China which I guess were for financial reasons so will they should do the same here.

    Seeing as Apple pulled the VPN apps from their Chinese site last week this is what happens the following week. Either way Apple has no where to go with this one.

    Both countries are authoritarian governments who have appalling human rights record. If Apple had taken a principled stand with China then wouldn’t have had to deal with the Russians. But then again it’s all about money and Apple’s share price.

    1. It might not be all about money.

      Apple might be concerned about its in-country employees going to prison because they have committed acts that the local government has defined as crimes. A “principled stand” from your perspective might equal ten years in the Gulag from their perspective. Easy to talk about principles; not as easy doing the time. In the present political climate, it’s not like Apple can offer its overseas employees any reasonable hope that America will take them in as political refugees.

      To point out the obvious: it is simply impossible for Apple to continue listing Telegram in a functioning Russian App Store. Either Apple pulls the app or Russia will pull down the Store. There is no third alternative.

      I suppose you don’t think Apple should be doing business in any country where the government is hostile to free expression that does not support government policies. What country is left?

  4. The US has the luxury to pretend that it is the epitome of free speech because it has the NSA that can penetrate absolutely every form of communication, electronic or not. Russia does not so it has to ask companies like Apple to get rid of stuff that Russia is unable to penetrate.

  5. TxUser,

    Your logic lacks consistency. In China VPNs protects the identities of people who might be breaking Chinese laws. Apple doesn’t want it’s store closed down and they don’t want to make decisions that will affect their bottom line, and their share price.

    In western democracies it’s easy to take a stand on human rights and an individual’s right to privacy but the real test is whether they’ll do the same thing in authoritarian countries So far it doesn’t look all that good or for that matter all that consistent

    1. If only the Google mouthpiece could be treated similarly. I’m sure the Russians would have a very effective method without any 24 hour resurrections no doubt.

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