Apple cites child abuse images as reason for Telegram ban

6 Feb 2018

Telegram app. Image: ulyana_andreeva/Shutterstock

Inappropriate images of children were being shared on the Telegram messaging app.

Telegram is a popular messaging app for those looking for a heightened level of privacy when it comes to their digital conversations.

Earlier in January, the Iranian authorities cut off access to the app, as many protesters were using it to organise direct action against the country’s free speech laws and economic strategies.

The app team is also planning to launch a native cryptocurrency.

Last week, the app was mysteriously pulled from the App Store for a number of hours without an explanation. Both the main Telegram app and the faster Telegram X versions were taken down.

Inappropriate content

CEO of Telegram, Pavel Durov, said Apple alerted the company that users had been accessing “inappropriate content” via the app in a tweet last Wednesday, but no further details emerged until today (6 February).

9To5Mac received an email from a reader, which included a response from App Store manager Phil Schiller about the temporary disappearance of the app. It read: “The Telegram apps were taken down off the App Store because the App Store team was alerted to illegal content, specifically child pornography, in the apps.

“After verifying the existence of the illegal content, the team took the apps down from the store, alerted the developer and notified the proper authorities, including the NCMEC [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children].”

Images of child abuse were being distributed on the encrypted platform, most likely content being served up from a third-party plugin used by Telegram.

Zero tolerance

Schiller said the content was removed and the users were banned, and that Telegram agreed to strengthen its defences against such heinous content.

He added: “We will never allow illegal content to be distributed by apps in the App Store and we will take swift action whenever we learn of such activity.

“Most of all, we have zero tolerance for any activity that puts children at risk – child pornography is at the top of the list of what must never occur. It is evil, illegal and immoral.”

Telegram allows for huge chats of up to 50,000 users at a time, and offers a secret chat function where messages sent are ephemeral, disappearing after a short space of time.

UK prime minister Theresa May recently singled out encrypted messaging platforms as a potential resource for criminals during her recent Davos address.

Telegram app. Image: ulyana_andreeva/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects