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Russia wants Telegram removed from Google Play Store

The Telegram Google Play Store listing may be in jeopardy, as Russia has officially reached out to Google requesting its removal.

Published onApril 17, 2018

  • The Telegram Google Play Store listing may be in jeopardy, as Russia has officially reached out to Google requesting its removal.
  • Russia also reached out to Apple and APKMirror requesting the removal of Telegram. So far, none of the companies have complied.
  • The Russia/Telegram saga looks like it’s going to get uglier before it gets better.

Russia doesn’t like the fact that Telegram, the encrypted chat app, enables Russian citizens to communicate privately with each other and the outside world. Now, following a legal rollercoaster, the Russian state telecommunications regulator admitted, via Reuters, it had sent requests to both Google and Apple to remove Telegram from their respective app stores.

As of now, neither Google or Apple has responded to the request. Presumably, Russians can still download Telegram from those app stores.

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The Telegram app logo on a smokey red background.

Telegram caught the ire of Russia when government officials requested access to encryption keys to enable the State to oversee conversations of Russian citizens. Telegram didn’t comply because Telegram conversations are end-to-end encrypted; meaning there is no encryption key to hand over.

The only way Telegram could comply with Russia’s request would be to eliminate end-to-end encryption within the app, which would make Telegram just like any other messaging app.

Upon the refusal to comply, the Russian government fined Telegram and took the company to court. In an outcome that should surprise no one who reads the news, the Russian legal system sided with the Russian government, which effectively made Telegram illegal.

Once again, Telegram was given the opportunity to hand over the keys to the kingdom, but it refused. In fact, Pavel Durov, the Russian expat who is the founder and CEO of Telegram, actually promised to do whatever he could to keep Telegram encrypted and available to Russians.

Now, Telegram is officially banned in Russia, and it looks like the government is doing what it can to enforce that ban.

APKMirror, which hosts APK files of Android apps, also received a request from the Russian government to remove Telegram. The company tweeted that it was ignoring the demand “for now.”

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Ultimately, no matter what the Russian government does it will not be too complicated for Russian citizens to download and use Telegram. Even if Google, APKMirror, Apple, and any other app store complies, anyone with Telegram already installed will have the APK for the app. They can then share that app within Telegram (where else?) to distribute to anyone who needs it.

Hopefully, Google and Apple will release statements soon refusing the request to ban the app. We’ll update this article should either company release a report.