Telegram Reveals Names, Phone Numbers, IP Addresses Of Those Who Shared Infringed Content

Telegram, complying with the August 30 ruling that held that courts in India can direct a messaging app to disclose the information of infringers, has disclosed the admin names, phone numbers and IP Addresses of the channels which are accused of unauthorised sharing of the study material prepared by Campus Private Limited and its teacher Neetu Singh for various competitive examinations.

Telegram Reveals Names, Phone Numbers, IP Addresses Of Those Who Shared Infringed Content

Justice Prathiba M. Singh in the order dated November 24 said the names of admins, the phone numbers and IP addresses of some of the channels as are available with Telegram have been supplied.

The court said that “Let copy of the said data be supplied to ld. Counsel for Plaintiffs with the clear direction that neither the Plaintiffs nor their counsel shall disclose the said data to any third party, except for the purposes of the present proceedings. To this end, disclosure to the governmental authorities/police is permissible”. 

Taking the affidavit of Telegram along with the chart containing the data on record, the court directed the Registry to retain the data in a sealed cover.

The court said in the order that “List before the Court for case management on 14th February, 2023. This shall not be treated as a part-heard matter. Matter shall be listed before the Roster Bench”.

Telegram previously said that the details of the creators or users of the channels cannot be shared as the data is stored in its data servers in Singapore and the law there prohibits such disclosure. This was rejected by the court on August 30.

The court also noted that despite Telegram blocking the channels, the users were creating new channels and operating in private mode. 

The court observed “The Plaintiffs’ works have thus been disseminated without any hindrance whatsoever, despite the injunction order, and the infringers are operating under completely masked identities. Repeated blocking of the channels is proving to be insufficient”.

As per the court, just because the messaging service has its server located abroad, the same cannot result in the infringer escaping from the consequences of infringement.

The court said in its ruling that “Courts in India would be perfectly justified in directing Telegram, which runs its massive operations in India to adhere to Indian law and adhere to Indian law and adhere to orders passed by Indian Courts for disclosure of relevant information relating to infringers. Infringers cannot be permitted to seek shelter under Telegram’s policies merely on the ground that its physical server is in Singapore”.

What is the Significance?

The judgement in the Neetu Singh versus TELEGRAM FZ LLC is a precedent and is now being widely cited by litigants to seek disclosure of user information from encrypted apps in cases alleging copyright infringement.

The high court on November 23 directed the Telegram to comply with a 2020 order directing it to disclose the basic subscriber information of the users who unauthorisedly upload and share ePaper of Dainik Jagran newspaper in PDF in their channels.

Justice Navin Chawla in the order took note of the submission that the issue regarding disclosure of identity of users by Telegram is no longer res integra and has been settled by a co-ordinate bench in Neetu Singh and Another v. Telegram FZ LLC and Others.

Justice Singh’s ruling was also cited recently in a case filed by Amul for removal of the “defamatory content” targeting it on social media and idea-sharing site Youtube.

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