Sarahah app uploads your address book without your knowledge

The app’s partial interest in your contacts is not hidden though. On both iOS and Android platforms Sarahah asks for permission to access each user’s phone contacts. Even if declined users can continue to use the app

The widely popular honesty app Sarahah is not being honest with its users.

Sarahah founder, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, tweeted that the contact lists are being uploaded "for a planned "find your friends" feature" which was "delayed because of a technical issue". On the other hand, the app on iOS platform claims to use contact data in the user's address book to show them their list of friends using Sarahah, which it actually does not do, reveals the testing done by Julian.

However, if you don't want that, you have the option to prevent the app from accessing your phone contacts and still use it.

Sarahah is designed with the goal to allow people to message its users anonymously. More intriguingly, there doesn't seem to be a reason for why the company would need to take such an ill-advised action in the app's current form. The researcher has also shard video showcasing exactly how the app continues to violate user privacy.

When first launched, this app harvests and uploads all phone numbers and email addresses in your address book. For example, he tested the app on Friday night and when he booted it up again on Sunday morning, it uploaded all his contacts once again.

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"Even in an innocent use case, if the data is not being handled safely, a server breach could allow malicious parties access to this contacts data", said Sudo Security Group president Will Strafach. However, it still brings up concerns about user privacy and how various mobile applications have been treating your data. "The privacy policy specifically states that if it plans to use your data, it'll ask for your consent", he told the Intercept. The database doesn't now host contacts and the data request will be removed on next update. However this does not translate to justifying the uploading of contacts without user permission.

As of August, the app has more than 62 million users, and it is among the most downloaded apps on the Apple App Store.

"Sarahah has between 5 and 10 million installs on just the Play store alone for Android, so if you extrapolate that number, it could easily get into hundreds of millions of phone numbers and email addresses that they've harvested", Julian said.

Have you been using Sarahah and posting the comments on Facebook and Twitter? 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. The site does not ask for permissions to access contacts from any of your address books.

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