Technology

Sarahah app uploading users' contacts to company's servers

Sarahah app uploading users' contacts to company's servers

This function according to Sarahah was abandoned because of technical challenges and the individual who was supposed to remove it from Sarahah no longer works with the company but apparently forgot to strip the app of the contact collection feature. While on iOS, the app says that it needs to access the users' contacts to show who has an account on the platform; on Android, the app seeks permission to access contacts without giving any reasons for the same. As of today, the app has over 62 million users. The app asks for permission to access the user's contacts when installing, but does not state that the data will be uploaded back to the company's servers. Rest assured though (we hope) - the app's privacy policy notes that it will "will never sell the data you provide to any third party" without users' prior and written consent unless part of bulk data used only for research and does not identify the user. Julian, a senior security analyst at Bishop Fox, installed the Sarahah app on a Galaxy S5 running Android 5.1.1. Julian also noticed that if you haven't used the application in a while, it'll share all of your contacts again.

Well, not sure about you, but collecting data for a feature which is not even available yet, can not be justified for most people.

Reports from The Intercept point that the "anonymous" app might not really be as private as it claims to be.

Newer Android operating systems, starting with Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow") do allow for more granular permissions for apps, allowing users to modify controls so that apps do not gain access to contacts or other information.

Other apps that send users' contacts to external servers are more forthright in their privacy policies. For users who are anxious about their privacy on Sarahah, you can go to the Sarahah website and remove your account from the app. Users can actually prevent the app from accessing contact data. Guess what, this app is not as harmless as it appears to be. Created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, the app is aimed to help people identify their strengths and weaknesses. On both iOS and Android, there is no mention of data being uploaded to a server.

A silver lining for Sarahah users concerned about privacy is that they don't need to download the service's app.

The primary argument against Sarahah is the fact that they are "stealing" your data because the app does not have a feature which would need access to your contacts. Over there you can manually disable the permission to access contacts.


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