The secure messaging app Telegram was banned in Russia back in April, but so far, it’s still available in the Russian version of Apple’s App Store. As another measure toward completely banning Telegram, Russia is now asking Apple to remove the app from the App Store and block it from sending push notifications to local users, as reported by Wccftech. In a supposedly legally binding letter to Apple, authorities say they’re giving the company one month to comply before they enforce punishment for violations.
The Moscow-based app got in trouble in April for refusing to share its encryption keys with Russia’s Federal Security Service. A court ruling banned Telegram from the country until the app provides the keys, citing the threat of criminals and terrorists using the encrypted platform for communication. Then in early May, Russia blocked 50 VPN services and internet anonymizers to further restrict access to Telegram.
But despite these efforts, the majority of users in Russia are still accessing the app, the Kremlin’s censorship arm Roskomnadzor announced yesterday. Only 15 to 30 percent of Telegram’s operations have been disrupted so far, leading Russia to turn to Apple for help taking the app down. The censorship arm also says that it’s in talks with Google to ban the app from Google Play.
While Apple has expressed its support for encryption and secure data in the past, it’s also made concessions to local demands. In China, the company has pulled VPN apps from the store and moved its iCloud operations to a local firm that has ties to the government. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.