Privacy, the Guarantor now investigates Clubhouse


    Privacy, the Guarantor now investigates Clubhouse
    Clubhouse seems to have grown too fast: there are many points where it is not compatible with the European regulation for privacy.

    It is the hottest social network of the moment but, despite its growing fame, Clubhouse has not managed to escape the watchful eye of the Privacy Guarantor who requested important information on the use of subscriber data. For the app, in fact, there are many points to be clarified on compliance with the legislation in force in Europe.
    The news of the interest in Clubhouse by the Italian Guarantor is not yet official, but the points to be clarified are already known: the necessary procedures put in place by Clubhouse to comply with the General Community Regulations for the protection of personal data (GDPR). In fact, there are several still obscure aspects on the management of information by social media based on voice communication, also frequented by illustrious personalities such as Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. Accessible exclusively by invitation and only for users with iOS devices (at least for the moment), the app created by Alpha Exploration Company now has 15 days to clarify how it intends to comply with European privacy legislation.

    Clubhouse, the key points to be clarified to the Guarantor
    The first point on which Clubhouse will have to shed light is, therefore, the management of user data, from the archiving methods to the times required for deletion from its servers. Access to the address book must also be well described, given the massive use of the app during the invitation phase, as well as the possible biometric analysis of user entries, the main communication tool within the social network.
    In particular, the regulatory reference to article 13 of the Gdpr would be a major absentee from the Clubhouse privacy policy, while the only laws integrated into the documentation would refer exclusively to what is in force in the state of California. The same applies to the Data Protection Officer, i.e. the person responsible for data protection who is not mentioned in the documentation available to users. The question of verifying the age of majority also remains pending, another point to be clarified to the Guarantor in the coming days.
    The impression, to tell the truth, is that Clubhouse has grown too quickly and is not yet ready to face a stumbling block of the (enormous) dimensions of the GPDR.
    Clubhouse, what you need to know
    One of the salient points is that of managing the contact book on the smartphone of registered users. Once registered, in order to take advantage of the two invitations available, the user must allow the app to access the names registered in the phone, a procedure that according to the data protection officer Johannes Caspar, head of the German branch of the commission, would violate the provisions of the Gdpr.
    Furthermore, the app would not be able to distinguish the different types of contacts in memory. This is the case reported by researcher Alex Blanford on Twitter who, recently, posted screenshots on how Clubhouse had transformed telephone numbers of health centers into “mutual friends” among some users who had registered their contact details.
    The same concerns also appear regarding the network of friends and acquaintances which, once logged in to the app, effectively becomes public to all users. In fact, the name of the person who provided the invitation to the Clubhouse remains visible on your profile, making available to anyone an important step in rebuilding relationships with members of the social network.
    Last but not least is the transfer of data to servers in the United States. Although this is explicitly clarified in the policy, the Privacy Shield that previously allowed this operation was effectively canceled with the Schrems II ruling, thus bringing to light another alleged irregularity which would thus add to the doubts raised by the Guarantor.


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