No, Sarahah is Not 'Stealing' Your Contact Data!

No, Sarahah is Not 'Stealing' Your Contact Data!

No, Sarahah is Not 'Stealing' Your Contact Data!

Sarahah lets its users comment on others anonymously but it doesn't reveal the name and neither does the app allow users to reply to a comment.

The app's founder, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, responded, stating that the contact lists were being uploaded "for a planned "find your friends" feature" that was eventually "delayed due to a technical issue".

Sarahah apps' privacy policy states it will ask for consent when it needs data from users. But what is troublesome is the app is collecting something it doesn't even need. The app is available in two languages, English and Arabic, for iOS and Android users.

But, online publication The Intercept recently uncovered the app's not-so-honest functionality in an article published on August 27 titled 'Hit App Sarahah Quietly Uploads Your Address Book'.

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However, users who permit access to their contacts list probably think it will add some functionality to the app which as of now is non-existent. The app stands accused of uploading emails and phone numbers from user address books to its servers. Users can actually prevent the app from accessing contact data. "My team wrote software to automatically detect this behavior in iOS apps in order to call out bad actors, but we found that the information was not as useful as anticipated, because so many apps are doing it and there is no reliable way to tell if the data is being handled safely on the server's side, and that is the most important part". On Android, the app in some cases requests access to contacts without giving any need for needing such access, and in other cases makes no such request. Sarahah privacy concerns are now on the rise as the app has been reported to be stealing contact data. According to the report Julian discovered this when he installed the app on the Galaxy S5 (running on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop).

The app, which is fast gaining popularity has been downloaded by over 18 million people from Apple and Google's online stores, according to estimates, making it the number three most downloaded free software title for iPhones and iPads.

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. On Android, if you are using Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, you can go to Settings Personal Apps App Permission to stop the app from sending your contacts to a server. On both iOS and Android, there is no mention of data being uploaded to a server. The typical option to search for your contacts is also missing. And that site doesn't ask for or access contacts from any of your digital address books.

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