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Telegram will offer free premium subscriptions – but there’s a catch

A new way to get a free premium subscription to Telegram has been discovered, but it risks providing your phone number to issue a one-time password (OTP) to other users of the messaging service.

If you’re surprised by what you just read, you’re not alone.

According to the terms of service for the new peer-to-peer login (P2PL) feature, if you opt in, you must agree to Telegram using your phone number to send up to 150 OTP-containing texts to other users to log into their accounts.

As long as your number reaches the minimum number of OTPs sent per month, you can get a gift code for a one-month premium subscription to Telegram.

Currently, P2PL is only available on Android, and only in certain (unspecified) locations.

What are the risks of OTP services on Telegram?

Simply put, every time you send an OTP using your phone number, your phone number will be visible to any other user.

The concern is that Telegram has effectively been exempted from any liability should any unwanted or dangerous behavior occur along the way. Telegram’s terms are as follows:

Therefore, you understand and agree that Telegram is not responsible for any inconvenience, harassment, or harm caused by unnecessary, unauthorized, or illegal actions by users who learn your phone number through P2PL.

The messaging service stipulates that participants in P2PL programs should not send text messages to OTP recipients, even if they text first, but Telegram has no realistic way to enforce any kind of security measures.

All things considered, is it worth participating in order to save $5 on premium access to Telegram? The risks appear to greatly outweigh the rewards.

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