The messaging app Telegram has shared personal user data with the German authorities despite the company’s claims of of privacy and shielding their personal data from even governments. According to German tech blog, Spiegel, the data shared with the German Federal Police Office was related to users who were suspects of terrorism and child abuse crimes.
However, it was still difficult for the German authorities to get data related to other types of crimes. Although, the move comes across as softening of the company’s policy on data protection. For years, Telegram has maintained that it has not shared any user data with third-parties. “To this day, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments.” said the company in their FAQs.
Telegram has never revealed the identities of people behind any type of online criminal content, but the company has maintained that it will release the IP addresses and phone numbers of users to the authorities if they are presented with a warrant on terrorism-related charges. However, despite such promises, Telegram has never really shared any type of user data with authorities.
According to the company, cloud chats are stored in multiple data centers around the world that are controlled by several legal entities across various jurisdiction. Moreover, the decryption keys are split into multiple parts and never stored together in order to protect the data.
Therefore, Telegram requires several court orders from different jurisdictions in order to release any type of user data. “Thanks to this structure, we can ensure that no single government or block of like-minded countries can intrude on people’s privacy and freedom of expression,” the company claims.
However, the recent release of personal user data to the German authorities has put a dent in Telegram’s policies, raising the possibility that the company can be forced by other governments as well to hand over private user data. This will be a concern for a lot of users as many use Telegram for its strict privacy policies.
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