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17 Apr, 2024 06:35

Apple and Google more dangerous than governments – Telegram founder

Pavel Durov has slammed the tech giants for their attempts to curtail freedom of speech
Apple and Google more dangerous than governments – Telegram founder

Apple and Google could, basically, censor whatever you can read, access on your smartphone,” Pavel Durov, the co-founder of the popular messaging app Telegram has told Tucker Carlson in an interview; he lamented that the pressure coming from the tech giants is stronger than that exerted by governments.

The entrepreneur has also said he received warnings from both the Democratic and Republican parties after the January 2021 riots in the US Capitol.

The rare discussion took place at the Russian-born IT entrepreneur’s office in Dubai, and was released on Wednesday. Carlson asked Durov to give an example of a request to build backdoors into Telegram that crossed into censorship, and could be considered spying, or violating people’s privacy. The messaging app claims to have over 900 million active users.

“There was a funny story related to your home country,” the tech entrepreneur replied. “After the events of January 6, we received a letter from, I believe, a congressman from the Democratic side, and they requested that we share all the data that we have in relation to what they called ‘that uprising.”

On January 6, 2021, a mob loyal to then-US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding in an attempt to prevent Congress from formalizing Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

Durov said his team checked the letter and it “seemed very serious,” essentially saying: “if you fail to comply with this request, you will be in violation with the US Constitution.”

“Two weeks after that letter, we got another letter, a new letter, from the Republican side of the Congress, and there we read that, if we give out any data [to the Democrats], it would be in violation of the US Constitution.

So we got two letters that said: whatever we do, we would be violating the US Constitution.”

However, the most pressure on Telegram, according to Durov, comes from tech giants Apple and Google, Durov stressed.

“I would say that the largest pressure is not coming from governments. It is coming from Apple and Google. When it comes to the freedom of speech, those two platforms could, basically, censor whatever you can read, access on your smartphone,” he said. “They make very clear that if we fail to comply with their guidelines, as they call it, Telegram could be removed from the [app] stores.”

Durov dismissed any suggestion of links between Telegram and the Russian government, suggesting that competitors could be stirring up such rumours to discredit the company.