All conversations are recorded
Clubhouse and data protection: four reasons why the app is controversial
Clubhouse is currently the hottest app. In order to be able to be there, many users reveal their contact details – what the company does with it is not clear. Otherwise, data protection is not particularly important.
Clubhouse is the app of the hour. It’s a network with no pictures, no text, no likes – there is only talk. Sounds boring, but that’s exactly what makes it so charming. It’s kind of like a podcast to join in. The hype was fueled by numerous celebrities and influencers, actors and presenters who registered with the public on the platform. Added to this is the artificial shortage: Currently only iPhone users can register, and only with an invitation from an existing member.
In order to be able to invite others, you should grant the app access to your own contact book right from the start. It’s done with one click. Only: what actually happens to the data? And how is Clubhouse positioned in terms of privacy?
The thing with the contact book
All conversations are recorded
A conversation in the clubhouse room is as intimate as if you were sitting at a table or stage with friends and acquaintances. But you should always be aware: The company records all conversations. In the user guidelines under the heading “Temporary audio recordings” it says: “Exclusively to support the investigation of incidents, we temporarily record the audio in a room while the room is active. If a user reports a trust and security breach during the Room is active, we keep the audio recording for the purpose of investigating the incident and then delete it when the investigation is complete. ”
If no incident is reported in a room while it is active, “we will delete the temporary audio recording as soon as the room is closed”. The company also makes it clear that no audio content will be recorded by muted speakers and listeners and that all temporary audio recordings are encrypted. In turn, users are expressly prohibited from making recordings of the conversations without the consent of all other participants.
No servers in Europe
Clubhouse is still a very young company with headquarters in the USA. The servers are currently also located there. A European subsidiary does not yet exist. In plain language: Anyone who uses the app is consenting to their own data being transferred to the United States.
Are profiles created?
Clubhouse’s business model is still unclear. There is currently no paid content, everything is free, there are no ads. However, the data protection information in Apple’s App Store shows that Clubhouse collects the user data. That is not unusual in itself, after all, the operators can use such data to learn to better understand the usage behavior of users and thus to develop new features in a targeted manner. However, this data can also be used to create profiles. One of the company’s venture capitalists is Andreessen Horowitz, who with Facebook and Instagram already supported two companies in the early stages that are known for scrutinizing their users in detail.
The next few weeks will be decisive
As a start-up with just nine employees, Clubhouse has limited development capacities. But if the app continues to grow at this rate, the lax approach to data protection could become a problem. The next few weeks will show whether the company is making improvements in key areas and takes user privacy seriously – or whether it is taking a path similar to that of Facebook & Co.