Truecaller breaks South Africa's new data privacy laws - Legal experts

Jamie McKane

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Truecaller breaks South Africa's new data privacy laws - Legal experts

Popular call screening app Truecaller could be in violation of South Africa's incoming Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), according to two law firms who recently spoke to MyBroadband.

Many South Africans may be familiar with the app, particularly given its usefulness in identifying unknown phone numbers and blocking unsolicited calls from telemarketers or scammers.
 

ToxicBunny

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Whilst there is a good basis for these concerns, at the end of the day Truecaller does provide a very very valid service to many people, and stops probably 4 or 5 spam calls a day on average for me (or at least lets me know that its MTN or Vodacom outsourced marketing call centres trying to sell me some new contract)... we really do have bigger issues in terms of POPIA compliance in this country than Truecaller really.
 

rvZA

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Agg, since around 2015/2016 the UK GDPR enforcers struggled to pin any wrongdoing on Truecaller and other similar apps. They will have even less problems in South Africa. I almost think that according to the POPI Act, they cannot prosecute companies abroad who do not have offices or representation locally. They do not specifically have a South African business and is more South Africans downloading their app abroad and using it. So, most likely, like in the UK, the Information Regulators can only go after those downloading the app, using it and sharing information from their contact lists.
 

Ockie

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Yikes, it would be bad if I downloaded the app from their website and then gave it permission to upload my contact list. I have some numbers stored on there with some strange names from dating sites :laugh: Imagine I do that and next time that person phones someone with Truecaller he comes up on their phone as "Gary Massive Di#k Mahunt" rofl.
 

Danie_V

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Seriously all subscribers have rights and if someone phones me they must be prepared to identify themselves? Why should I have to have people just surprising me? I anyway block all calls without any ID and my voicemail notifies users of this. If you don't want to tell me who you are, don't expect me to take your call either.
 

ToxicBunny

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Yikes, it would be bad if I downloaded the app from their website and then gave it permission to upload my contact list. I have some numbers stored on there with some strange names from dating sites :laugh: Imagine I do that and next time that person phones someone with Truecaller he comes up on their phone as "Gary Massive Di#k Mahunt" rofl.

We all have some very random contact names, and trust me I've seen a few of them in Truecaller when people have called me and had a good laugh at them actually...
 

neoprema

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So just a thought, but what if they used hash values?

So take the number i'm reporting in the app, convert it to some kind of non-identifiable hash value and store that with the metata like "its spam, origin:ZA etc". When the app receives a call it simply hashes that number and does a search - exactly like it would have with a normal phone number, but now its a cryptographic representation of that number, and therefore should not violate POPI?
 

ToxicBunny

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So just a thought, but what if they used hash values?

So take the number i'm reporting in the app, convert it to some kind of non-identifiable hash value and store that with the metata like "its spam, origin:ZA etc". When the app receives a call it simply hashes that number and does a search - exactly like it would have with a normal phone number, but now its a cryptographic representation of that number, and therefore should not violate POPI?

The problem for some people in terms of understanding that, would be that your phone has the original number so the App itself is doing some form of "processing" of personal data, even if the processing is done on a hashed value... you can ascertain the outcome and tie it back to a piece of personal information that you have at your disposal.
 

Ninja'd

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Truecaller is slowly becoming bloated now adding additional feature like chat and video calling. Who the hell is using its chat function? Stop reminding me every week you have one.
 

cda

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By the same legal "logic" used here caller identity itself violates POPI. The database is populated by people receiving unsolicited calls. Calling people to market/scam them with an advertised number waives your right to privacy.

Of course that would seriously disrupt the debt collection business that these two lawyers represent.
 

Fulcrum29

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Truecaller is slowly becoming bloated now adding additional feature like chat and video calling. Who the hell is using its chat function? Stop reminding me every week you have one.

I moved to CallApp, also a bit bloated, but it is much quicker than Truecaller.

Busy trialling Whoscall on my business phone, it needs more work, but I think it is heading to be the best caller ID app on the market.
 
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