Messaging app Telegram has revealed a new feature called Passport that offers to store the user’s real-world identification documents. The idea here is that third-party companies could utilize Telegram Passport as a simplified way to get necessary ID documents from customers or users, though they’d have to support the tool. Critics have raised security concerns about uploading these sensitive documents to the cloud, however.
Telegram detailed the new feature today, calling it a “unified authorization method” that it hopes other services will use to verify user or customer ID. Telegram users are able to upload things like a copy of their passport and their residential address. When a different service that supports the feature requests it, the user can share their “Passport” with the company.
According to Telegram, it doesn’t have any access to this identification data, which is secured and given directly to the recipient when the user chooses to use it. The company plans to transition this data to a decentralized cloud at some point in the future; Telegram uses end-to-end encryption.
There’s only one electronic payment system that supports verification using Telegram Passport at this time: ePayments.com. To use it, you’ll first need to sign up for Passport, which can be found under the Settings > Privacy & Security menus (just “Settings” if you’re on iOS). Passport is only available in the latest version of the Telegram app.
Telegram is working on an improvement it calls third-party verification, which will involve a verification provider checking that the person and data is real/correct, then providing that verification to services that accept it. By offering this, Telegram users won’t even need to provide their Passport data directly to the service.