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Apple Tells Secure Messaging App Telegram to Take Down Protestor Channels in Belarus

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Apple has told Telegram to take down channels used by protestors in Belarus.

Apple is requesting that Telegram shut down three channels used in Belarus to expose the identities of individuals belonging to the Belarusian authoritarian regime that may be oppressing civilians. Apple’s concern is that revealing the identities of law enforcement individuals may give rise to further violence.

Telegram, however, would prefer to keep the channels open, but the company said that it feels it has no choice in the matter. These channels are a tool for Belarus’ citizens protesting the recently rigged presidential election, but, with a centralized entity like Apple calling the shots on its own App Store, there’s little the protesters can do about it, explains Telegram CEO Pavel Durov.

“I think this situation is not black and white and would rather leave the channels be, but typically Apple doesn’t offer much choice for apps like Telegram in such situations,” Durov wrote in his Telegram channel.

The tension between Apple and Telegram is part of the wider issue surrounding Belarus’ 2020 election, which saw incumbent Alexander Lukashenko re-elected despite claims and evidence the election was rigged. The result has seen thousands of Belarusian citizens take to the streets to protest.

This tension also highlights a problem with centralized app stores. “Unfortunately, I assume these channels will end up getting blocked on iOS, but remain available on other platforms,” Durov added.

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