Neetu Singh v. Telegram FZ LLC

Shravya SrivastavaCase Summary

Requiring Telegram to disclose details of channels involved in copyright infringement

Neetu Singh v. Telegram FZ LLC
In the High Court of Delhi
CS (Comm) 282/2020
Before Justice Prathiba M. Singh
Decided on August 30, 2022

Relevancy of the Case: Requiring Telegram to disclose details of channels involved in copyright infringement

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
  • The Personal Data Protection Act, 2012 (Section 17, 29) (Singapore)
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 72A)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The plaintiff filed a suit for a permanent injunction to prohibit the unauthorised circulation of her videos, lectures, books, etc., thereby leading to copyright infringement. She also invoked her right to claim damages.
  • She has filed this suit against Telegram, a messaging platform. Her work is being disseminated through various channels on Telegram.
  • She sent multiple emails to Telegram to take down the impugned channels. The platform took down some of them; however, the rest continued to exist. Users were even creating new channels every day for the circulation of copyrighted material.
  • The plaintiff has also sought to disclose the details of users operating the impugned channels on Telegram.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The plaintiff’s counsel cited Telegram’s privacy policy. The policy states that Telegram will take down any material circulated in contravention of the law. It also mentions disclosing details of the individuals involved in the unauthorised circulation of the content.
  • The defendant’s counsel submitted that clause 8.3 of the Privacy Policy states that information about a user is only expected to be disclosed if the user is a terror suspect. Further, the counsel cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India and contended that disclosing identity is only permissible under a court order. Moreover, Telegram’s server has encrypted data. The decryption of such data is not permissible per Singaporean data protection law.

Opinion of the Bench

  • Even if Telegram’s servers are in Singapore, it does not absolve the platform from the jurisdiction of Indian courts in a matter of copyright infringement.
  • In this era of cloud computing, old-age concepts of territoriality cannot be applied in their entirety to render no protection to intellectual property rights.
  • Since Telegram has a major customer base in India, the platform must appoint a Grievance Officer as per the IT Rules, 2021.

Final Decision

  • The court directed Telegram to disclose the personal information of users operating channels involved in disseminating unauthorised content.