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Truecaller Denies Allegations Of Exposing Data Publicly By Leveraging Weak Data Privacy Laws

By: Tech Desk


Last Updated: March 12, 2022, 12:19 IST

In its response, Truecaller assured all users that their data is safe.

In its response, Truecaller assured all users that their data is safe.

Truecaller said that it has a robust privacy policy in place and is subject to over 150 data regulation regimes.

Caller ID app Truecaller has responded to a report in The Caravan magazine, refuting the allegations that Truecaller is leveraging the lack of a comprehensive legal framework in India to publicly display private information of users like their phone number, designation, organisation name, if the number is used on WhatsApp, and other metadata without their consent. In its statement, Truecaller said that there are several inaccuracies in the article. In response, the company also said that all the data of its users is safe and Truecaller does not sell user data. “We care deeply about our users and their data, and would like to assure them that we securely handle their data and process it as per our Privacy Policy,” the company said in its statement.

The report in The Caravan, that was published earlier this week, said that Truecaller publicly displays people’s sensitive data without having their consent. The report also said that the company may be building a complete financial profile of its registered users, again, without their proper consent.

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In its statement, the Stockholm-based company said that it has stringent security and governance measures in place. The company said that it is “building great things that continue to have a positive impact on millions of people.” To clarify an excerpt from the article, where the journalist said that Truecaller also tells people if the number is used for WhatsApp or not, the company said that this is an Android API (Application Programming Index) that exists for user convenience. “It’s there so that other apps can call or request for WhatsApp to be opened. We do not actually know if a user is on WhatsApp or not, we simply show the WhatsApp button as a convenience for users,” Truecaller said. The company said that it knows people use WhatsApp commonly and it is simply trying to invoke WhatsApp and lead the user to a point of initiating a conversation.

Further, the company clarified the fact that out if its 300 million monthly active users, 220 million are from India. TrueCaller has also rejected claims that the company may be building financial profiles of its users. “This is patently false. Truecaller does not have the capability of building financial profiles. In addition, we would like to point out that Truecaller exited the UPI and payments business in March 2021. We exited both UPI and payments as well as digital loans. Digital loans was a trial, in partnership with NBFC partners,” the company said.

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On allegations that the state of privacy protection is minimal, TrueCaller said that it has a “robuse privacy policy that protects user rights.” “Truecaller is subject to over 150 data regulation regimes and we are always committed to comply with local regulations. We also allow users the power to control their data, how it is being displayed and for anyone to delist data, even in markets where this is not required by law, because we think it is the right thing to do. We are further committed to privacy by design principles, limiting data collection and usage to what is relevant for our services.”

In its point-to-point response to the report in The Caravan, Truecaller also denied that people’s phone number with their professional identity is there for the whole world to see. The company said this is not true because one cannot input a name into Truecaller and get a number. “You can only input a number and get a likely name associated with that number. This could be a spammer, scammer, harasser or someone that you do want to receive calls from,” the company said.

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The statement from Truecaller responds to all the allegations made in the report one-by-one. The company has said that it relies deeply on the trust and communication it has with its users and assured people that it securely handles their data and processes it as per the "robust" privacy policy that protects user rights.

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first published:March 12, 2022, 12:19 IST
last updated:March 12, 2022, 12:19 IST