Sarahah Wants Your Contact Details for a Non-Existing Feature

Hit App Sarahah Quietly Uploads Your Address Book

The new viral app that allows people to receive anonymous messages has already gained a lot of attention due to cyberbullying.

Sarahah's founder, Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, tweeted in response to The Intercept's article, saying that the contacts were being uploaded for a planned "find your friends" feature.

For those who are yet to try Sarahah we recommend declining the app the permission to access your contact data.

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Sarahah portays itself as an app to let users "receive honest feedback" from friends and employees but the app is collects more than just feedback messages. But the app is collecting more than feedback messages.

Furthermore, in its privacy policy, the app states that it would seek users' consent if it plans to use the data.

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'. Security specialists can only view what the device, in this case a Galaxy S5, is doing and not what the server is doing with the data. Which the app users can access later on through the smartphone app. According to a report from The Intercept, the app uploads users' phone contacts to the company's servers, for no good reason. 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. After Intercept pointed out the behaviour, he stated "the data request will be removed on next update" and that Sarahah's servers now don't host contacts. The app interactions also involved privilege escalation which is a phase wherein sensitive information is prone to get leaked. Sarahah privacy concerns are now on the rise as the app has been reported to be stealing contact data. 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.

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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. On both iOS and Android, there is no mention of data being uploaded to a server.

For those who have installed Sarahah but no longer wish to share their data, head over to settings apps and select the app. The typical option to search for your contacts is also missing. Over there you can manually disable the permission to access contacts.

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