The Coalition for a Safer Web, a Washington DC-based nonprofit, is suing Apple for not removing messaging app Telegram from the App Store.
In a lawsuit filed Sunday, Marc Ginsberg, a former U.S. ambassador to Morroco, and the coalition say the app remains in the App Store “despite Apple’s knowledge that Telegram is being used to intimidate, threaten, and coerce members of the public.”
The Coalition for a Safer Web previously alleged that Telegram is a “communications channel [used by] the Russian government and affiliated Neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups, sowing misinformation and racial division in the United States and in Europe.”
The group wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook in July 2020, asking him to remove Telegram from the App Store. Apple has not, as the lawsuit would suggest, taken steps to boot Telegram.
More recently, the lawsuit alleges, the app was used to “coordinate and incite extreme violence” prior to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damages.
Apple’s history with Telegram
Although Apple has not removed Telegram, the two companies have had their share of clashes. In July 2020, Telegram filed a formal antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Union over its App Store practices.
Back in October, Apple asked Telegram to remove certain content related to protests in Belarus that possibly contained identifying information.
Recently, Apple removed Parler, a social media app favored by some right-wing individuals and organizations, from the App Store. Cook said Parler can return, but only if it offers better moderation of content in the app.
The Section 230 battle
Ultimately, this comes down to another Section 230 issue. That piece of U.S. legislation is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. There are, in essence, two parts to Section 230. One is that, with a few exceptions for criminal behavior, internet service providers aren’t liable for comments, images, videos or other materials posted on them. The second is that this immunity covers providers even if they choose to delete or edit some user content.
It’s a thorny issue — and it’s one that has been discussed considerably over the past couple of years. The recent Parler case, and now this one, show the tricky situation Apple is in. When it removed Parler from the App Store, Apple faced criticism in some conservative corners for alleged censorship. Now, by not removing Telegram, Cupertino gets dinged for supposedly not doing its job properly.
We’ll keep you updated with this case as it moves forward.
Source: Apple Insider