• 16/03/2023
  •  https://dg.samrl.org/l?e4747 
    Yemeni number detector application and privacy violation
    Digital Rights |

    The Digital Rights Project issued its tenth report on the application of the Yemeni number detector, and the risks it poses to users, within the project implemented by SAM with the support of Internews.

    The report entitled (Yemeni Number Detector Application and Privacy Violation) said that the application has gained tremendous popularity recently, as it is used by more than 5 million people, without realizing the risks and serious concerns it raises, regarding the privacy of users and the security of their data, and pointed out that the continued promotion of the application, requires evaluating its privacy practices and raising awareness among users about the risks associated with its use.

    These figures signal that most users are not fully aware of the potential risks associated with using this application. Either due to a lack of education or their inability to access resources that can provide them with the information necessary to make mature decisions about the use of such applications, moreover, the fact that the application is popular with its risks may indicate a lack of interest or disregard for privacy and personal security by users.

    The report issued by the Digital Rights Project stated that there are many gaps and potential risks in the privacy policy of the "Yemeni Number Detector", with regard to the collection of users' contact list information, including names and phone numbers, and the privacy policy does not specify what the application will do with this information and how it processes it, and the developers did not mention how long the users' data will be kept. The privacy policy indicates that the app uses third-party services that may collect information to identify the user, however, it does not specify which third-party services are used or how they use the information collected.

    It added that the privacy policy specifies that the app collects log data including a user's IP address, device name, and operating system version, and therefore this information can be used to track users' online activities, which can be a privacy concern.

    "The privacy policy clearly states that developers cannot guarantee the absolute security of users' data, which means that users' personal information may be at risk of being hacked or leaked." The privacy policy also lacks transparency, as it does not provide detailed information about the application's data collection and usage practices, which may make it difficult for users to fully understand the risks and potential consequences of using the application.

    The report argued that the application "Yemeni Number Detector" does not guarantee any right to the user, for example the application does not allow users to delete and erase data from its database, at all, even if the user deletes the application from his device, his data and the data of others (his contacts) remain stored on the application, which is a flagrant violation of everyone's rights.

    The report, prepared by the digital rights team at Sam's organization, explained that the powers enjoyed by the application, such as full access to the network, give the possibility that the application monitors and collects sensitive user data such as login credentials, personal information, and browsing history. The app can also access and collect user contact information, which may include sensitive data such as phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses, and granting these permissions may also make the device vulnerable to security threats such as malware, viruses, and hacker attacks.

    It revealed a serious vulnerability in the application that attackers can exploit to access the bank accounts of users who save the bank account number and password in contacts, indicating that applications that do not use strong security protocols and do not follow security best practices can be exposed to hacker attacks and breaches.

    The report stated that the risks of the application do not stop at the limit of disclosing users' data and violating their privacy, but extend beyond that, and include all personal, social and psychological aspects, and the risks are not limited to its users only, but also affect people who are not involved in it, in a violation that includes everyone.

    Regarding the measures to be taken regarding the application, the report quoted cybersecurity experts as stressing that the issue of banning such programs requires government communication to sites that provide the possibility of downloading them, such as Google Play and others, and the need to legislate digital security laws to pressure transcontinental companies to adhere to the privacy of information security in the country. The experts also recommended the need to delete number detection applications and all harmful applications from phones and computers and to be careful not to bear them at all, to avoid falling into digital security risks, with the need to work to spread community awareness among citizens about the danger of these applications.

    The report (issued by SAM's Digital Rights Project and supported by Internews) concluded that the number detector application may appear to be a service, but it carries many risks for users, and non-users, which requires individuals to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect their personal information and privacy online.

    Furthermore, the app highlights the need for further education and awareness about the risks associated with using such apps.

    It is worth noting that the report (Yemeni Number Detector Application and Privacy Violations) is the tenth within the digital rights project, which is implemented by SAM with the support of Internews, with the aim of advocating for the issues of digital rights of Yemenis, leading to a free and safe digital space.

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