Truecaller violates South African law
The most Popular call screening app in South Africa 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 are familiar with the app, particularly given its usefulness in identifying unknown phone numbers and blocking unsolicited calls from telemarketers or scammers trying to call them.
The app has more than 150 million daily users across the globe and a whopping 1.7 million of which are based in South Africa.
Truecaller is often able to show the owner of a number that a user does not yet have through its universal database which is supported by crowd-sourcing of data from its users.
Contrary to popular belief, Truecaller does not actually automatically upload your address book or contact list to its servers when you download it.
Truecaller’s information is uploaded to the company’s database, which is stored in a foreign server.
In addition, Truecaller allows users to manually submit the details of a number that was not yet available on its database.
According to law firms Werksmans Attorneys and Norton Rose Fulbright, there are several issues with these features under POPIA.
The primary issue was that the app allowed full disclosure of a contact list, which could amount to confidential information being disclosed.
Shifting the blame to the user
She said POPIA requires a responsible party – in this case Truecaller – to notify a data subject of how it will process – use, store, transmit, and access – its personal information, even when it is not collected directly from the data subject.