Telegram Passport Stores ID on the Cloud—But Is It Secure?

Popular instant messaging platform Telegram has added a new feature called Passport. The tool can be used to store your identity documents on Telegram’s encrypted cloud storage and is intended to be used with ICOs and crypto exchanges that require ID.

According to the official statement:

“Meet Telegram Passport – a unified authorization method for services that require personal identification. Upload your documents once, then instantly share your data with services that require real-world ID (finance, ICOs, etc.).”

Telegram has identified a complaint that the crypto community has: know-your-customer (KYC) procedures are almost universally present on ICOs and exchanges, requiring users to upload the same ID documents repeatedly for each platform.

The fact that this is a time-consuming process has led to a surge of blockchains, such as NEO and Ontology, that have digital ID features intended to be widely compatible with other services. But a major obstacle that these platforms face is the fact that they do not begin with—nor have they currently achieved—widespread adoption.

Telegram, though, has already gained widespread popularity in cryptocurrency circles for offering more encryption and privacy than other services. Telegram uses ‘end-to-end encryption’ which means that it doesn’t have any access to user data.

Nevertheless, many users do have reservations about Telegram’s encryption practices. Data is not encrypted with end-to-end encryption by default. Telegram’s Passport announcement states that end-to-end encryption will be a feature:

“Your identity documents and personal data will be stored in the Telegram cloud using End-to-End Encryption. It is encrypted with a password that only you know, so Telegram has no access to the data you store in your Telegram passport.”

However, the announcement does not mention whether it will be enabled by default, or for how long that security model will apply

“In the future, all Telegram Passport data will move to a decentralized cloud,” reads another excerpt from the announcement.

This “future” security model could either refer to Telegram’s upcoming blockchain, TON, or to its current cloud storage system that scatters less strictly encrypted data across legal jurisdictions.

As a result, many users see Telegram as the best available option in terms of security but still may not want to trust it with their personal information. That said, Telegram does have a history of posting more detailed explanations of their security model, so this may regain the trust of users.

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