Telegram Barks, Whines, and Wants a Treat

April 25, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Tucker Carlson, an American TV star journalist lawyer person, had an opportunity to find his future elsewhere after changes at Rupert Murdoch’s talking heads channel. The future, it seems, is for Mr. Carlson to  present news via Telegram, which is an end-to-end-encrypted messaging platform. It features selectable levels of encryption. Click enough and the content of the data passed via the platform is an expensive and time consuming decryption job. Mr. Carlson wanted to know more about his new broadcast home. It appears that as part of the tie up between Mr. Carlson and Mr. Durov, the latter would agree to a one-hour interview with the usually low profile, free speech flag waver Pavel Durov. You can watch the video on YouTube and be monitored by those soon-to-be-gone cookies or on Telegram and be subject to its interesting free speech activities.


A person dressed in the uniform of an unfriendly enters the mess hall of a fighting force engaged in truth, justice, and the American way. The bold lad in red forgets he is dressed as an enemy combatant and does not understand why everyone is watching him with suspicion or laughter because he looks like a fool or a clueless dolt. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough. Any meetings in DC today about security?

Pavel Durov insists that he not as smart as his brother. He tells Mr. Carlson [bold added for emphasis. Editor]:

So Telegram has been a tool for those to a large extent. But it doesn’t really matter whether it’s opposition or the ruling party that is using Telegram for us. We apply the rules equally to all sides. We don’t become prejudiced in this way. It’s not that we are rooting for the opposition or we are rooting for the ruling party. It’s not that we don’t care. But we think it’s important to have this platform that is neutral to all voices because we believe that the competition of different ideas can result in progress and a better world for everyone. That’s  in stark contrast to say Facebook which has said in public. You know we tip the scale in favor of this or that movement and this or that country all far from the west and far from Western media attention. But they’ve said that what do you think of that tech companies choosing governments? I think that’s one of the reasons why we ended up here in the UAE out of all places right? You don’t want to be geopolitically aligned. You don’t want to select the winners in any of these political fights and that’s why you have to be in a neutral place.  … We believe that Humanity does need a neutral platform like Telegram that would be respectful to people’s privacy and freedoms.

Wow, the royal “we.” The word salad. Then the Apple editorial control.

Okay, the flag bearer for secure communications yada yada. Do I believe this not-as-smart-as-my-brother guy?


Mr. Pavlov says one thing and then does another, endangering lives and creating turmoil among those who do require secure communications. Whom you may ask? How about intelligence operatives, certain war fighters in Ukraine and other countries in conflict, and experts working on sensitive commercial projects. Sure, bad actors use Telegram, but that’s what happens when one embraces free speech.

Now it seems that Mr. Durov has modified his position to sort-of free speech.

I learned this from articles like “Telegram to Block Certain Content for Ukrainian Users” and “Durov: Apple Demands to Ban Some Telegram Channels for Users with Ukrainian SIM Cards.”

In the interview between two estimable individuals, Mr. Durov made the point that he was approached by individuals working in US law enforcement. In very nice language, Mr. Durov explained they were inept, clumsy, and focused on getting access to the data in his platform. He pointed out that he headed off to Dubai, where he could operate without having to bow down, lick boots, sell out, or cooperate with some oafs in law enforcement.

But then, I read about Apple demanding that Telegram curtail free speech for “some” individuals. Well, isn’t that special? Say one thing, criticize law enforcement, and then roll over for Apple. That is a company, as I recall, which is super friendly with another nation state somewhat orthogonal to the US. Furthermore, Apple is proud of its efforts to protect privacy. Rumors suggest Apple is not too eager to help out some individuals investigating crimes because the sacred iPhone is above the requirements of a mere country… with exceptions, of course. Of course.

The article “Durov: Apple Demands to Ban Some Telegram Channels for Users with Ukrainian SIM Cards” reports:

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that Apple had sent a request to block some Telegram channels for Ukrainian users. Although the platform’s community usually opposes such blocking, the company has to listen to such requests in order to keep the app available in the App Store.

Why roll over? The write up quotes Mr. Durov as saying:

…, it doesn’t always depend on us.

Us. The royal we again. The company is owned by Mr. Durov. The smarter brother is a math genius like two PhDs and there are about 50 employees. “Us.” Who are the people in the collective consisting of one horn blower?

Several observations:

  1. Apple has more power or influence over Telegram than law enforcement from a government
  2. Mr. Durov appears to say one thing and then do the opposite, thinking no one will notice maybe?
  3. Relying on Telegram for secure communications may not be the best idea I have heard today.

Net net: Is this a “signal” that absolutely no service can be trusted? I don’t have a scorecard for trust bandits, but I will start one I think. In the meantime, face-to-face in selected locations without mobile devices may be one option to explore, but it sure is easy to use Telegram to transmit useful information to a drone operator in order to obtain a desire outcome. Like Mr. Snowden, Mr. Durov has made a decision. Actions have consequences; word sewage may not.

Stephen E Arnold, April 25, 2024


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