Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sarahah Quietly Uploads Your Address Book

Yael Grauer:

Sarahah bills itself as a way to “receive honest feedback” from friends and employees. But the app is collecting more than just feedback messages. When launched for the first time, it immediately harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in your address book. Although Sarahah does in some cases ask for permission to access contacts, it does not disclose that it uploads such data, nor does it seem to make any functional use of the information.


After this piece was published, the app’s creator, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, tweeted that the contacts functionality would be removed in a future release and had been intended for a “‘find your friends’ feature.” He later told The Intercept the feature was stymied by “technical issues” and that a partner, who he has since stopped working with, was supposed to remove it from the app but “missed that.” He claims the functionality was, however, removed from the server and that Sarahah stores no contacts in its databases. This is impossible to verify.

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