In his English-language Telegram channel Pavel Durov published an article in which he spoke in detail about the reasons for blocking the Smart Voting bot. Here is the main point of his publication.
“Telegram gives users more freedom of speech than any other popular messenger. Unlike competitors, we are not subject to pressure from shareholders, cloud infrastructure providers or advertisers through censorship, ”- Pavel Durov.
Despite these freedoms, Telegram’s creator says the messenger is dependent on other campaigns, including Apple and Google. To remain accessible to iOS and Android users, the application must follow the rules set by them.
Durov reports that this year Apple and Google began to require applications to comply with local laws of the countries in which they operate. Pavel noted that some laws are contrary to human rights and previously the developers of operating systems were not subjected to pressure for ignoring them. However, Apple and Google consider it “legal” when it comes to public content, so developers must follow their guidelines.
As an example, Durov recalled Apple and Google’s recent ban on smart voting applications. Part of its functionality was duplicated by the bot in Telegram with the appropriate name, which remained available until recently. The platform holders decided to remove the application from the App Store and Google Play before the start of the elections in the Russian Federation, explaining their decision as a violation of local laws against interference in elections. Pavel Durov stressed that Telegram was forced to follow the store’s policy and suspend the bot’s work within 24 hours.
According to Durov, despite previous opposition to blocking, they were forced to comply for two reasons. First, without the support of Apple and Google, they will not be able to resist local regulators – “such a fight is played before it starts.” Telegram loses the ability to bypass local bans after being removed from stores. Durov noted that they are now often threatened with similar sanctions.
Secondly, the demand of the Russian authorities, according to Durov, was not unconstitutional, as they referred to a law restricting campaigning after the start of voting. Similar laws exist in many countries. Paul emphasizes that if any other country demanded something similar, they would prefer to go to the meeting.
Durov opposes the Russian users of Telergam and everyone else, summarizing that it is more important for him to preserve the interests of the majority, which depends on regular updates of the messenger in the App Store and Google Play. Otherwise, the decision would be tantamount to losing a queen for a pawn in chess without a clear winning strategy.
“I am ready to personally face pressure from politicians from the ruling and opposition parties, since I put our users first,” – Pavel Durov.
Durov recalled that they are doing everything possible to protect freedom of speech and common sense. This year alone, Telegram was fined 35 million rubles by the Russian authorities for refusing to remove opposition channels.
“Users want Telegram to be 100% independent and able to ignore local laws, Apple and Google. I would like this to become a reality, but our actual reality is different. I have warned the public on several occasions about the dangers of the Apple-Google duopoly on free speech.
Unfortunately, there is no such application that can provide complete freedom from all restrictions. Regardless, Telegram will continue to provide the widest possible range for public comment. Our goal is to provide you with the best messaging service in the world, so we will continue to protect your freedoms, ”- Pavel Durov.