Russia attempted to block Telegram earlier this year after the app’s owners refused to hand over message transcripts to state security, but according to the country’s Roskomnadzor communications watchdog, it’s so far only succeeded in disrupting the firm’s operations by 15 to 30 per cent.
What’s more, according to some reports, downloads of the encrypted messaging app have reportedly increased since the ban came into force, with users flocking to bag themselves a VPN in order to gov-enforced block. That was until the Russian gov last month moved to block 50 anonymizers and VPN services, at least.
Given the government’s continued efforts to block the app are failing, Roskomnadzor has this week demanded that Apple remove the Telegram app from the Russian App Store. It’s also asked that the company blocks the app from sending push notifications to users in the country.
The watchdog first asked Apple to remove the app in April, but it never got a response.
“In order to avoid possible action by Roskomnadzor for violations of the functioning of the above-mentioned Apple Inc. service, we ask you to inform us as soon as possible about your company’s further actions to resolve the problematic issue,” the regulator wrote.
The Russian government hasn’t said what will happen if Apple fails to respond to the legally binding letter it sent to the company, but Roskomnadzor’s director Alexander Zharov said he did not want to “forecast further actions” should the company not comply with the request following the 30 day period.
While Apple has yet to respond, the firm has previously removed apps from the iOS App Store at the request of governments. In a move slammed as “troubling”, the company removed hundreds of VPN apps from the iOS App Store in China last year. More recently, Apple also started blocking apps that rely on the CallKit framework at the request of the Chinese government.
According to reports, Russia’s communications regulator is in talks with Google to ban the Telegram app from Google Play.