Delhi High Court to Telegram: ‘Server in Singapore’ is no excuse

The Delhi High Court has come down heavily on instant messaging platform Telegram for not disclosing information on the grounds that its servers are located in Singapore. In the 51-page order dated August 30, the court said that Indian courts would be perfectly justified in directing Telegram, which runs its massive operations in India, to adhere to Indian law and orders passed by them for disclosure of relevant information relating to infringers.
Telegram argued that it cannot disclose user information as that would violate its privacy policy and the laws of the jurisdiction where its physical servers are located. Rejecting this claim, a bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh, said that even under the provisions of the IT Act, such as under Section 79(3)(b), Telegram has a duty to expeditiously remove or disable access to the unlawful material, without vitiating the evidence in any manner. “In view of this position of the law regarding copyright, compliance with local law, i.e., PDPA (Personal Data Protection Act), cannot be an excuse for Telegram to justify the non-furnishing of the information relating to the channels through which dissemination of infringing content takes place as, such dissemination, would in the opinion of this Court, be violative of law, even under the laws of Singapore,” it said.
“Indian courts are competent”
“Indian courts are competent to decide issues relating to infringement of copyright and the mere fact that Telegram is operating a messaging service in India which chooses not to locate its servers in India cannot divest the Indian courts from dealing with copyright disputes or divest copyright owners from availing their remedies in Indian courts,” the order reads.
The order further adds, “In the present age of cloud computing and diminishing national boundaries in data storage, conventional concepts of territoriality cannot be strictly applied. The dynamic evolution of law is essential to ensure appropriate remedies in case of violation of copyright and other IP laws.”
The court was dealing with a suit of plaintiff Neetu Singh and KD Campus Pvt. Ltd seeking permanent injunction restraining infringement of copyright, damages and other relief in respect of unauthorised dissemination of the plaintiffs’ videos, lecture, books, etc. The Court directed Telegram to disclose, in a sealed cover, the details of the channels and devices used to disseminate alleged copyright infringing content, along with the mobile numbers, IP addresses, and email ids of such users.

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