Sarahah Has Been Downloading All the Data In Your Address Book

by Linda Olson August 29, 2017, 0:16
Sarahah Has Been Downloading All the Data In Your Address Book

Sarahah, the app that allows users to anonymously comment on other users, is said to have over 18 million users cross Android and iOS. The behaviour was spotted by security analyst Zachary Julian.

Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, Sarahah's founder informed that the contacts were uploaded for "for a planned "find your friends" feature" which is yet to be released.

Despite claiming on iOS to use contact data to show the user who in their address book is on Sarahah, the app does not actually do so, Julian said, judging from his testing. He further states that the feature has been delayed due to technical issues. He reasoned that this feature would help in letting users find their friends on Sarahah. While the app's entry in Google's Play Store does indicate the app will access contacts, that's not "enough consent" to justify "sending all of those contacts over without any kind of specific notification", he added.

The problem is that privacy policy specifically states that if it plans to use your data, Sarahah will ask for permission. Even if declined, users can continue to use the app. At the same time, it is also worth noting that the app does work well even when users don't allow the app to access contacts. There is no friends-list inside the app.

Sarahah allegedly downloads the user's contacts along with phone numbers and email addresses. The information consisted of "all of your email and phone contacts". Months down the line, the app was still getting traction.

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"As soon as you log into the application, it transmits all of your email and phone contacts stored on the Android operating system", Julian quoted. He later verified the same occurs on Apple's iOS, albeit after a prompt to "access contacts", which also appears in newer versions of Android. The same logic applies to a users personal life where it gives a channel for friends or family to be honest with you.

With privacy concerns on the rise, such information is certainly causing a negative effect for the app. But as we see, all but newer and expensive Android phones are super slow when it comes to getting updates for their OSes.

For those who really want to use Sarahah and are concerned about their privacy can take comfort from the fact that they do not require to download the app to use the service.

Well, not sure about you, but collecting data for a feature which is not even available yet, can not be justified for most people. The site does not ask for permissions to access contacts from any of your address books.


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