Invitation-only audio-chat platform, Clubhouse has become extremely popular across the world. However, researchers from Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) have revealed that the app could cause trouble for Chinese users.
This is because the app collects content, communications, and other information that participants provide, including when they sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others. And the app temporarily records the audio in a room while the room is live.
In China, the government restricts open discussion of certain topics, “maintaining a ‘Great Firewall‘ to block domestic audiences from accessing many foreign apps and websites”. The SIO believes that “the government could eavesdrop on [users] conversations, leading to reprisals”.
Initially the ap was not available in China because of the country’s “track record on privacy”. But users were able to find a way to work around it, “which meant that—until the app was blocked by China earlier this week— the conversations they were a part of could be transmitted via Chinese servers”.
To improve privacy and security, Clubhouse revealed that it will “add additional encryption and blocks to prevent Clubhouse clients from ever transmitting pings to Chinese servers”.
Kaspersky researchers believe that the app can create a false sense of security, privacy, and closeness, in part because of how its registration works (it’s invitation-only at the moment). This creates several risks for the users, which are important to be aware of when using any public space on the Internet.
One of the risks is privacy risks. This is often connected with the fact that people feel they are surrounded by like-minded individuals and friends, which allows them to behave more authentically than they would in front of strangers.
This creates an opportunity for offenders who are always on the lookout to use any accidentally mentioned information against the victim, yet in this particular instance, a user wouldn’t be able to prove the phrase was, for example, taken out of context, unless the conversation is recorded in advance.
Theoretically, such cases could lead even to blackmailing a targeted person by demanding to pay a ransom. Moreover, it’s important to remember that everything you speak or write within the app is not only heard and seen by those present but also collected and analysed by the service itself.
Users must remember that the Internet, especially discussion and social platforms, are a public place and the behaviour conducted on them should be appropriate for the public.
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