Clubhouse chats may not be as private as expected. According to Bloomberg, Clubhouse spokesperson Reema Bahnasy said a user was able to stream audio from “multiple” rooms into their own third-party website – an action that is clearly against the app’s intended purpose (and selling point) of only allowing people within chatrooms to exclusively hear or discuss certain topics.
The app’s developers claimed that the aforementioned user has now been “permanently banned”, and that new “safeguards” has been newly installed in order to prevent a potential repeat incident. However, some privacy and security analysts aren’t entirely convinced.
“Clubhouse cannot provide any privacy promises for conversations held anywhere around the world,” former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos told Bloomberg. Stamos now heads the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), which last week revealed the social app’s potential vulnerability to spying by the Chinese government.
Clubhouse provided us with the following statement promising changes. We found that the use of Shanghai-based Agora is fundamental to the function of the app and building logical and technical controls between the US and PRC infrastructure will be extremely complicated. pic.twitter.com/K27SmO4PtG
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) February 16, 2021
The SIO had also pointed to Clubhouse’s links to Agora, a Shanghai-based company that is subject to China’s internet laws and legal requests. Agora handles a good chunk of the app’s back-end operations, including the processing of data traffic and audio production.
Bloomberg added that the Chinese company’s value has climbed over 150% since mid-January, making its current worth close to USD$10 billion (~RM40.4 billion). Clubhouse itself has seen astounding growth, doubling its global downloads in a span of weeks. In Malaysia, it currently holds the ranking of most popular free iOS software available on the Apple App Store.
Anyway, if you’re a Clubhouse user, we strongly urge you to be cautious when using the app. For the time being (at least), just assume everything you say in chatrooms on the platform isn’t private.