On 9 November 2017 we published an article titled "How the Truecaller app puts your privacy at risk" which went on to detail how the popular app does not request your permission to use your personal details even though you are not a user of their service. The article went on to be published by our content syndication partner, The Next Web, under the original headline "Truecaller has a disturbing privacy flaw that leaks your friends’ numbers".
Truecaller, through Fleishman-Hillard South Africa, subsequently reached out to express concern that the original headline of the article “Truecaller has a disturbing privacy flaw that leaks your friends’ numbers” might be misleading. The Next Web obliged and changed the word ‘leaks’ to ‘exposes’. It is important to note that, despite this concern about the headline, Truecaller did not explicitly point out any factual inaccuracies in the article.
As a result, after much back and forth on 10 November 2017, iAfrikan sent questions to Truecaller's Kim Fai Kok Director of Communications at Truecaller, to get clarity from the company on the privacy concerns raised in the article and to further elaborate on the statements and answers that Ted Nelson, Chief Commercial Officer at Truecaller, had sent iAfrikan (which were included, in full, in this initial article).
iAfrikan: Does Truecaller upload contact details of people who are not Truecaller users and / or have never used the Truecaller service?
Truecaller: Truecaller does not upload contact details of non-users for publication from users who have downloaded the application from Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
Does Truecaller upload telephone numbers of minors (under 18)?
We cannot distinguish phone numbers of minors and Truecaller does not knowingly engage with data in relation to minors.
Does Truecaller have a process to check if a telephone number being uploaded belongs to a minor?
See answer above
Do you have a process to ask those whose contact details are being uploaded (i.e. not the person installing the app, but the data subject) if they agree for their details to be uploaded to Truecaller? (i.e. permission)
If the subject is already a Truecaller user, they would have agreed to our T&C, however for subjects who have not agreed to our T&C, we’ve made it easy for them to opt out of the service or, if they want, control the content of their profile by becoming a user. Regardless, their phone numbers cannot be accessed by doing a search for their name in Truecaller without their consent.
Wouldn't this uploading of data in the manner that you do as Truecaller be in contravention of the EU's upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws and South Africa's upcoming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act?
We are committed to being compliant with all existing and future laws and regulations applicable to us.
- 9 November 2017: How the Truecaller app puts your privacy at risk.