Telegram app free-speech advocate no stranger to Apple-FBI woes
By Eric Auchard
BARCELONA Feb 23 (Reuters) - Pavel Durov, founder of secure messaging app Telegram and VKontakte, lives in the vortex that now pits technology giant Apple against the FBI.
His current venture, Telegram, has been built from the ground up to resist government pressure, operating in a fashion more akin to stateless whistleblower site WikiLeaks than Silicon Valley-rooted Apple, which is in a stand-off with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Durov has spent years fending off intrusions into his users' communications, forging an uncompromising stance on privacy after founding popular site VKontakte, Russia's answer to Facebook, then losing control of it for refusing Russian government demands to block dissidents.
"We had a simple choice: Either betray our values or keep our values and leave Russia to try to do something new," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Europe's largest annual technology conference.
Since leaving Russia in 2014 to set up Telegram, Durov and his core team of 15 developers have become perpetual migrants, living only a few months at a time in any one location, starting in Berlin, then London, Silicon Valley, Finland and currently, Barcelona. The company is incorporated in multiple jurisdictions, including Britain.
Telegram, a tenth the size of Facebook-owned rival WhatsApp, has caught on in many corners of the globe including for a while with Islamic State as an ultra-secure way to quickly upload and share videos, texts and voice messages.
Authorities in China, Iran and Russia have threatened or taken action to block its service.
"We are not willing to compromise our values in order to increase our market share," Durov said. Continuación...