Telegram allegedly exposed user data to authorities

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According to a new report by Der Spiegel, Telegram – commonly known as one of the “most secure” messaging apps in circulation – has repeatedly handed over user data to German authorities.

The report says the app caved to several data requests from Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office. The information transmitted would belong to users accused of child abuse and terrorist activities.

Facing the charges, Telegram denies passing on any personal information, saying “to date, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments.”

Telegram hands over user data to authorities, sources suggest

If you are one of Telegram’s 500 million active users, your privacy may no longer be guaranteed.

Last Friday, Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest news site, revealed that the operators of the messaging platform handed over personal data to the authoritiesalthough the app claims they have never succumbed to such demands.

Sources told Der Spiegel that requests for data have been met on several occasions. The German authorities, however, explain that receiving this information was an uphill battle and that many other requests were ignored.

Furthermore, the transferred data was used to support extreme criminal cases concerning sexual offenses against children and terrorism, and no other information was transmitted.

Over the past few years, the Dubai-based app has become increasingly popular with German activists due to its strong stance on data protection. However, as the German state continues to crack down on extremists using the platform, Telegram is being forced to rethink its own privacy policy.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s proving difficult for the app to appease both sides of the debate. But amid accusations from German media, what is Telegram’s official stance on disclosing user information?

Telegram denies any wrongdoing

While Telegram has yet to respond to Der Spiegel’s report, its official website says they have never disclosed a byte of data to third partiesincluding governments.

Despite this, under section 8.3 of its privacy policy, Telegram admitted to disclosing users’ IP addresses and phone numbers to authorities if presented with a warrant for terrorism charges.

But with the platform promising to encrypt all messages, you might be wondering – how is that possible?

Well, unlike messaging apps like WhatsApp, Google, Apple, and Samsung Messenger that consistently use end-to-end encryption (E2EE), Telegram doesn’t consistently use the method.

The messaging app, however, protects all secret conversations with E2EE and uses server-client encryption elsewhere. For this reason, Telegram is able to pass sensitive information to authorities if they deem it appropriate.

How to keep your messages private, private

Looking for a way to send private and secure messages? We suggest using E2EE-consistent messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Signal, or iMessage.

If you’re determined to stick with Telegram, you can always message safely using the app’s “Secret Chat” mode. This feature also allows users to self-destruct chats on demand.

Whether the data you transmit is personal or professional, E2EE is not the only way to secure information. By using virtual private networks (VPNs), password managers and anti-virus software, your messages are even less likely to fall into the hands of third parties.

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