Telegram allegedly handed over user data to authorities despite continuing to say otherwise

“To date, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments.”

Messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption can pretend they’re protecting their users by saying they’ve thrown away the key – metaphorically and literally – and can’t undo what was scrambled in transmission. Telegram, however, says it protects every user whether they use E2EE or not, saying requests for government data must pass particularly rigorous scrutiny before complying and they have never complied with such a request. . This is not the case, according to a report.

The Spiegel source reports that Telegram responded to a number of data requests from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office regarding terrorism and child abuse suspects. Even more data requests for other criminal cases have been more or less ignored.

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To date, Telegram has maintained in the FAQ section of its website that it has transferred “0 bytes of user data” to third parties, including governments. In section 8.3 of its privacy policy, last updated in 2018, the company says it will release users’ IP addresses and phone numbers to authorities when warranted for terrorism-related charges. will be presented. However, although he promised to publish semi-annual reports on any disclosure activity, he never did.

The German government has pressured Dubai-based Telegram to cooperate with its investigations into far-right groups that use the messaging platform to spread their cause and coordinate their actions. Telegram recently stepped up its own enforcement measures, but its user and group bans have been as comprehensive as lawmakers wanted.


In a similar vein, Russia purged the company’s app in 2018 from the country for refusing to turn over its encryption keys under federal anti-terrorism laws. Telegram has reached a deal with the Kremlin in 2020 that would see the app return to Russia with increased application on the platform.

It’s a good sign that Telegram continues to offer Russian users an uncensored window into the military invasion of Ukraine despite a greater domestic crackdown on anti-patriotic sentiment. But all of that leaves unanswered questions about how much user data the company has provided to governments.

We have contacted Telegram for comment.

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