Truecaller app is dangerous warns Egypt's Minister of ICT

Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Yasser El-Kady, warned that some smartphone apps, specifically the Truecaller app, are possibly allowing terrorists access to people's address books and contact lists on their smartphones. El-Kady made the remark at a workshop entitled “Facing the promotion of terrorist ideology and countering it”, organised by the Ministry of Justice,

Egypt is the ranked 10th globally based on Truecaller's report on spam calls and 3rd in Afrika with 9,9 spam calls recorded.

Truecaller Spam calls
The top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2017. | Truecaller

“I have the minister of justice’s number on my mobile, the [Truecaller] app will give away the number to anyone,” said El-Kady.

Truecaller essentially is a global telephone directory which allows its users to have caller ID service despite not having the caller's telephone number in their phone's address book. Added to the caller ID feature, another popular feature on the Truecaller app is the call blocking one. This allows a user to block calls from specific telephone numbers you don't want to receive or ones that have been labelled as spam by other users of the service.

However, there is something quite interesting about the Truecaller app which you typically observe when you call someone who doesn't have your number on their address book but they have the Truecaller app. Despite you not having ever used the app, as soon as you call a Truecaller user, your telephone number appears on their screen along with your name. This is possible because one of the ways Truecaller collects data to populate their database is through what they call "permission based" crowdsourcing. This is a process where, anyone who installs their app also has an option that gives the Truecaller app the option to upload their entire address book to the Truecaller database.

As such, El-Kady highlighted that some apps, like Truecaller, transfer personal data to other users using the same app, and he further warned Egyptians to be on the alert and protect themselves from these types of apps.

South Africa is the largest market for Truecaller in Afrika having recorded the fifth most spam calls globally at 15,8 million according to a recent report from the company, with Nigeria recording 10,4 million, with Kenya just slotting in at number 20 globally by recording 7,7 million spam calls.