Gaining Anonymity on Telegram

2 minute read Published

How to get on Telegram without a real phone or getting your prints dusted.

After making some tweaks to improve my online privacy I’ve been waffling over whether or not to use Telegram. I’ve never been too keen on software which collects metadata, or, as Edward Snowden calls them, “activity records”, about their users. My hang-up was the controversy and theoretical weakness in MTProto, Telegram’s encryption protocol. But that all changed the moment Russia banned Telegram, reportedly disrupting their national banking system in the process.

Privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.

Pavel Durov

Now that’s what I call integrity.

It’s beginning to look like Telegram is to free speech as EFNet was to warez. And like the warez scene Telegram has illegal downloads too.

The challenge now is how to get on without spilling too much metadata or registering with a phone number so obvious it’d be simple to trace to an individual. And while it may be possible—albeit much more difficult these days—to stand up a temporary VOIP server to do the registration thing there has to be a better way.

So we hit the search engine: use telegram without a real phone. Which leads to a Quora page with the typical response sequence:

  • It’s not possible.
  • You can’t. But have you seen my blog?
  • There’s an app for that.

So there’s one possible solution. Another would be to simply use someone else’s phone to complete registration. But I’ve got a better idea. Instead, I’m going to pick up some cheap prepaid SIM cards during my next trip out of country, grab a burner phone and complete the registration using Tails from someone else’s machine.

That oughta do it. Because, as Durov states, privacy is not for sale.