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Telegram reportedly gives user data to German authorities

Telegram logo on a mobile screen
Telegram (Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Telegram has reportedly surrendered user data to German authorities in certain occasions.
  • These data requests from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office involved terror and child abuse cases.
  • Telegram apparently ignored some requests involving other types of criminal cases.

Telegram is one of the best messaging apps that prides itself on upholding user privacy under normal circumstances. However, the service has bowed to pressure from German federal investigators and turned over user data in cases involving terrorism and child abuse, according to a new report.

According to Der Spiegel (opens in new tab), Telegram has submitted to several data requests from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office. These requests concerned information on users suspected of terrorist activity and child abuse.

Android Central has reached out to Telegram for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

The messaging service maintains that it has never given anyone, including governments, access to user data. "To this day, we have disclosed 0 bytes of user data to third parties, including governments," according to the FAQ section (opens in new tab) of its website.

However, the company notes that it may hand over user data "only if an issue is grave and universal enough to pass the scrutiny of several different legal systems around the world."

Telegram's privacy policy (opens in new tab) also states that it may disclose a user's IP address and phone number to government authorities if it receives a court order. This has never happened so far, according to the service.

Der Spiegel reports that German Federal Ministry of the Interior has demanded that Telegram cooperate with its investigations into criminal groups that use the platform to spread their message.

However, in cases involving other types of criminal activity, Telegram refuses to turn over user data. Still, the latest report highlights some cracks in Telegram's privacy policy despite taking pride in its end-to-end encryption.

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.