Messaging application Telegram is testing a personal identification service, Telegram Passport, and could launch it before the end of this month, according to Russian sources. The news apparently means that Telegram’s upcoming blockchain platform TON is still on track despite the company recently canceling a long-anticipated ICO.
Upload Identification Docs Once, Use in Many Places
Telegram Passport, which is currently being tested, will allow Telegram users to upload their ID documents just once for secure storage, and identification will also work for other online services choosing to partner up with the messaging application, say sources close to Telegram, quoted by Russian business daily Vedomosti.
According to the sources, Telegram Passport could be inaugurated as early as by the end of May 2018. Vedomosti sources also named the Russian e-payment system Qiwi among Telegram’s prospective partners that will accept user identification via Telegram Passport.
The launch of Telegram Passport could come as a major solution to the issue of anonymity of online transactions, including, primarily, transactions in crypto – something that has been making regulators worry all over the world.
Telegram and Privacy Battles in Russia
The news about Telegram Passport follows the messaging service’s fierce battle with the Russian government over its refusal to allow local secret services to decipher Telegram messages.
The Russian government claimed it needed access to people’s private messages because of concerns over the threat of terrorism, but Telegram shrugged it off as infringement on users’ privacy.
Some sources said, however, that the Russian government was more concerned about Telegram’s upcoming blockchain platform TON, for which the company has already raised over $2 billion USD, and the cryptocurrency “Gram” attached to it, rather than Telegram messages themselves.
In the wake of the ban, internet services for other companies, such as Amazon and Google, were disrupted in Russia, but Telegram has continued to operate in a normal way as people use VPN and the company itself redirects traffic through cloud services.
In any case, Telegram’s plans for TON might be at odds with regulators’ attempts to curb usage of crypto globally. When Telegram unexpectedly cancelled its ICO for TON in early May without any explanation, regulatory concerns were mentioned as a possible reason by observers.
Other observers said, however, that Telegram already raised the cash it once wanted and didn’t have to bother with an ICO.
Founded by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, who earlier was behind the social network VKontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) Telegram has ambitious plans for TON and Gram, such as offering faster transaction times and lower fees than the existing cryptocurrencies.
Some may claim that Telegram’s plans to launch a user identification service, the idea of which apparently contradicts that of online anonymity, could be out of sync with Durov’s own philosophy of privacy and personal freedom.
However, over the last few weeks, Telegram users have been able to see Durov’s unequivocal stance on online privacy in his fight with the Russian government. That could be reason to worry less about the security of their personal data stored by Telegram.
Would an identification storage service like this make your life easier? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Telegram, Pixabay
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