Telegram ordered to reveal user information by Indian court

2 Sep 2022

Image: © prima91/

A copyright infringement case involving an Indian teacher’s study materials being shared on Telegram has spelled trouble for the app in its largest market.

A court in India’s capital has directed messaging app Telegram to reveal details such as mobile numbers, email IDs and IP addresses of channels involved in a copyright infringement case.

The lawsuit was filed in the Delhi High Court by a teacher – and the coaching centre she works in – who accused the messaging app of allowing the upload and dissemination of her copyrighted study materials for various competitive examinations.

Telegram argued that giving up sensitive information on its users would violate the company’s privacy policy as well as the laws of Singapore – where some of its servers storing the information are based.

The court argued in response that it was not fair that copyright owners would have to be “completely remediless against the actual infringers” just because Telegram servers are based in Singapore.

Telegram has more than 700m users globally for its encrypted messaging app and India is its largest market. The privacy-focused company has been put in a tough spot by this ruling.

While it allows for the disclosure of user information when a person is declared a terror suspect, this appears to the first time a court has ordered it to reveal private information in a copyright infringement case.

“If there are any further lists of infringing channels, the same [must] be also submitted to Telegram within one week,” the official Delhi High Court ruling read.

“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.”

Part of Telegram’s charm is its prioritisation of privacy relative to competing messaging apps.

WhatsApp was under fire in India last year when the country’s IT ministry ordered the Meta-owned app to retract policy changes that it deemed to violate Indians’ privacy when the same violations did not apply to EU citizens.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic