A ruling issued this week by the Delhi High Court said Telegram must pass on information such as IP addresses, mobile phone numbers and devices used by channels on the platform implicated in the violation of the right to author.
A copy of the decision is available on the Indian legal news blog Livelaw [PDF]Judge Prathiba Maninder Singh stating that she was not convinced that the situation of Telegram’s servers in Singapore or that its status as an intermediary was relevant.
The case, Neetu Singh & Anr. against Telegram FZ LLC & Orswas started by petitioner Neetu Singh, who has written and sells manuals and videos on several topics.
According to the filing, Singh asked Telegram to remove the offending channels, which it did, but the infringing channels continued to appear “almost daily”.
The judgment stated:
On behalf of Telegram, the platform’s lead attorney, Amit Sibal, said the arrangement already in place ordering Telegram to remove the infringing channels was “sufficient to protect the interests of the plaintiffs”.
According to the filing, Telegram also said that as an “intermediary” under India’s IT law, it only has to remove infringing content after being notified and is not not responsible for third-party information disseminated on its platform. He also claimed that the act of “unauthorized disclosure” of subscriber information would constitute breach of contract, a criminal offense under Indian IT Law.
Quoting clause 8.3, Sibal noted: “If Telegram receives a court order confirming that you are a terrorist suspect, we may disclose your IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities. So far, this has not happened. never produced.”
Telegram has also argued that the encrypted data relating to the details the court wants to release is in a data center in Singapore, with the platform saying it would not be able to decrypt the data under the 2012 law. on the protection of personal data of Singapore.
The judge, however, ruled that “simply because the persons disseminating the copyrighted works use the Telegram application and the said application stores its data outside India, on Telegram’s servers, the jurisdiction of this Court cannot be discounted” because, among other things, the infringement “is shamelessly continuing in India”, the copyrighted material belongs to a rights holder based in India, and the “likelihood” that the people behind the infringing channels and data downloads all take place in India.
She then ordered Telegram to release details of the accounts/channels that uploaded the complainant’s infringing material within two weeks “in a sealed cover”.
We asked Telegram for comment.
The messaging platform added a paid tier in June after passing the 700 million monthly active users mark. It enjoyed a huge influx of users looking to jump the WhatsApp ship after Facebook bought it for $16 billion in 2014 and people started to worry that Meta and its interconnected subcompanies would do with all the information she had about them.
That said, a lot of WhatsApp statuses in Reg Circles of Scribes still bears the message: “Hi, I am now at Signal/Telegram and I will soon delete my WhatsApp account” well over eight years later, no doubt due to pressure from aunties in family WhatsApp groups. It’s not easy being green. ®