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Indian court orders Telegram to disclose details of channels violating copyright – TechCrunch


An Indian court has ordered the messaging app Telegram to disclose the details of channels involved in a copyright infringement case in the country after Telegram argued, unsuccessfully, that doing so would violate its privacy policy with users.

This is not the first time that the app has come under fire because of its privacy policy. The app has gained some notoriety after critics said it enabled extremist groups to communicate and grow their numbers. And in Brazil earlier this year, a court ordered Apple and Google to remove Telegram from their app stores because of how it was being used to spread misinformation. (The latter ban was lifted in three days after Telegram complied with removal requests.)

But this latest case appears to be the first time that Telegram has been ordered by a court to disclose user data specifically related to copyright infringement anywhere, and the first time an Indian court has ordered any app to disclose data related to copyright infringement.

The Delhi High Court directed the Dubai-headquartered firm to submit the details, such as mobile numbers, IP addresses and email IDs, used for uploading infringing content while hearing a lawsuit filed by a teacher against the messaging app and people involved in sharing her copyrighted study material.

Telegram argued that disclosing user information would violate its privacy policy and the laws of Singapore, where it has located its physical servers for storing user data.

However, the court has responded to the argument and said that copyright owners couldn’t be left “completely remediless against the actual infringers” because Telegram has chosen to locate its servers in Singapore.

Telegram didn’t respond to a request for a comment on the order.

In the filing with the court, the complainant named Neetu Singh submitted a list of channels circulating her lectures and books on competitive exams. The channels were selling the content at discounted prices, the complainant said.

“If there are any further list[s] of infringing channels, the same [must] be also submitted to Telegram within one week. The data relating to the infringing channels and the details as to the devices/servers/networks on which they are created, their creators, operators including any phone numbers, IP addresses, email addresses, used for this purpose shall be disclosed by Telegram within a period of two weeks thereafter,” the 51-page order (PDF) said.

Telegram, which counts India as its largest market, amassed over 700 million users in June. At the time, it also launched a premium tier to monetise its growth against the likes of WhatsApp and Signal.

The public claims made by Telegram to prioritize user privacy helped it to gain the attention of many Indian users amid growing negative sentiment against WhatsApp due to the latter’s 2021 privacy policy update. However, the Meta-owned app has so far maintained its domination in the South Asian market.



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