Without the support of Apple and Google, the fight against the Russian regulator did not make sense, Pavel Durov said. And the demand of the Russian authorities to remove the Telegram bot “was not clearly unconstitutional,” he said.
Founder of the Telegram messenger Pavel Durov
The founder of the Telegram messenger Pavel Durov on Saturday, September 25, explained in his own Telegram channel, “why Telegram sometimes has to take unusual steps in terms of content moderation,” such as blocking “a certain application on the topic of elections.” Without ever mentioning the name of the bot – “Smart Voting” – Durov indicated that his blocking, which was required by local legislation, could have been avoided if IT giants Apple and Google had taken a different position on this issue. “However, the start of a battle with these two tech companies and the government at the same time will lead to the immediate blocking of Telegram for millions of users,” – said the founder of the messenger.
In his opinion, such behavior on the part of the administration of the messenger makes sense only if the legal requirement contradicts human rights. At the same time, “the demand to temporarily block the bot associated with the election campaign, when the voting has already begun, is in no way close to the demand for mass surveillance (of users – Ed. ) Or mass censorship,” Durov noted.
“The interests of hundreds of millions of Telegram users will always be incomparably more important to me than the interests of any political force,” summed up the founder of the messenger.
How Telegram Blocked the Smart Voting Bot
On the night of September 18, a day after the start of voting in the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation, the Telegram messenger blocked the Smart Voting bot created by the team of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, with the help of which Russian voters could find out which candidate in their region has the maximum chance of bypassing the representative “United Russia”. Then Pavel Durov explained this step by the ban on campaigning during the voting.
At the same time, Apple and Google removed the Navalny app from their online stores, and the video hosting portal YouTube blocked videos with Smart Voting recommendations. For his part, Alexey Navalny criticized the actions of Apple, Google, YouTube and Telegram.
Author: Elena Gunkel