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Telegram shares data of users accused of copyright violation following court order

Telegram has disclosed names of administrators, their phone numbers and IP addresses of channels accused of copyright infringement in compliance with a court order in India in a remarkable illustration of the data the instant messaging platform stores on its users and can be made to disclose by authorities.

The app operator was forced to shared the data after a teacher sued the firm for not doing enough to prevent unauthorised distribution of her course material on the platform. Neetu Singh, the plaintiff teacher, said a number of Telegram channels were re-selling her study materials without permission at discounted prices.

An Indian court earlier had ordered Telegram to adhere to the Indian law and disclose details about those operating such channels.

Telegram unsuccessfully argued that disclosing user information would violate the privacy policy and the laws of Singapore, where it has located its physical servers for storing users data. In response, the Indian court said the copyright owners couldn’t be left “completely remediless against the actual infringers” because Telegram has chosen to locate its servers outside the country.

In an order last week, Justice Prathiba Singh said Telegram had complied with the earlier order and shared the data.

“Let copy of the said data be supplied to Id. Counsel for plaintiffs with the clear direction that neither the plaintiffs nor their counsel shall disclose the said data to any third party, except for the purposes of the present proceedings. To this end, disclosure to the governmental authorities/police is permissible,” said the court (PDF) and first reported by LiveLaw.

A Telegram spokesperson declined to say whether the app operator shared private data.

“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,” Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn told TechCrunch.

India is one of the largest markets for Telegram, which has amassed nearly 150 million users in the South Asian market.


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