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30 Nov, 2022
2 min time to read

Yesterday, the Indian media LiveLaw.in reported that Telegram had complied with the requirement of the Delhi Supreme Court and disclosed to the Indian authorities the names, phone numbers and IP addresses of a pirate channel administrators.

These channels allegedly published training materials for exams written by Campus Private Limited and one of the teachers, Nitu Singh. On August 30, the court ordered Telegram to hand over information related to admins of the “pirate” channels to the authorities.

Telegram appealed to the court's requirement, referring both to its privacy policy, the Singaporean law (the servers that the Indian users rely on are physically located in Singapore) and the constitution of India, which protects people's privacy, as well as the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, the court was adamant and still demanded disclosure.

The court record dated November 24, which LiveLaw.in refers to, states the following:

The said data, which is in the form of a chart, has been perused by the Court. It shows that the names of the admins, the phone numbers, and IP addresses of some of the channels as are available with Telegram have been filed.

According to Durov's Code's source close to Telegram, the phrase "as are available" is key:

This means that Telegram sent what it had to send. And if there was nothing, then nothing was sent,

the source told Durov's Code.

The source explained that not all information is available even to the management of the messenger, for example, without knowing a specific phone number, Telegram often cannot obtain any data about the user.

At the same time, the court record dated November 23 says that the request to the messenger contained only links to the channels, whose administrators' personal data the court wanted to know.

This Court by an ad interim ex parte order dated 29.05.2020, inter alia directed the defendant no.1 to disclose the basic subscriber information/identity of the users/owners of the channels who have been impleaded as the defendant no.2 and are using the e-mail addresses, t.me/dainkjagran, t.me/dainikjagranhindi, t.me/dainikjagran_jnm, t.me/dainikjagranpdf, t.me/dainik_jagran, t.me/dainikjagran, t.me/DJagran, t.me/Dainik_Jagran_pdf, t.me/Fainik_Jagran_News, t.me/dainikja, as mentioned in paragraph (b) of the application, that is IA no.4073/2020.

According to the source, the court decision was executed only formally, but in fact, no names, phone numbers and IP addresses of the "pirates" were transferred to the Indian authorities due to the impossibility of obtaining them by Telegram itself according to the data provided by the court.

This information was indirectly confirmed by Telegram representative Remy Vaughn in a comment to TechCrunch:

Telegram stores very limited or no data on its users. In most cases, we can’t even access any user data without specific entry points, and we believe this was the case here. Consequently, we can’t confirm that any private data has been shared in this instance.