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Telegram’s new peer-to-peer login programme raises privacy concerns

Telegram, known for its emphasis on privacy in messaging, is facing criticism over its recent move to launch the opt-in peer-to-peer login programme on its Android app.

The programme, designed to improve the login experience for users, has raised eyebrows among privacy advocates due to its potential impact on user privacy.

Under the Peer-to-Peer Login programme, users who opt-in grant Telegram permission to use their phone numbers to send one-time passwords (OTPs) to other users who attempt to log in to the app.

In exchange for participating, Telegram offers users a free one-month premium subscription, as well as access to various paid features typically reserved for premium subscribers.

The catch, however, is the method used to send the OTPs. Telegram uses the user’s phone number to send up to 150 texts containing OTPs to other users.

Also read: Telegram to soon introduce advanced Stories feature on the app

While this increases the reliability of receiving OTP codes via SMS in selected areas, it raises concerns about user privacy.

Participating in the programme means revealing your phone number to the recipient of the OTP code.

Despite Telegram’s recommendation not to exchange messages with the recipient, there is no guarantee that this will be enforced.

Privacy advocates argue that this poses a significant privacy risk, especially given Telegram’s reputation as a privacy-focused messaging app.

The move comes at a time when messaging platforms such as Signal are striving to improve privacy by removing the need for phone numbers and moving to usernames for communication between users.

Usernames offer a more secure and private method of connecting with others without revealing personal phone numbers.