READ: WhatsApp: check out ten app polemics in 2019
Apps like SnapTube, FaceApp and big companies like Facebook and Apple have also suffered criticism based on investigations or private data leaks. See below the list of TechTudo with top app polemics in 2019.
Polemic involving Telegram was highlighted in 2019 Photo: Helito Beggiora / TechTudo
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Hackers had access to private messages exchanged by judges and prosecutors on Telegram Photo: Marvin Costa / TechTudo
The website The Intercept Brasil obtained and disseminated messages exchanged on Telegram between names such as the former federal judge and current Minister of Justice, Srgio Moro, and the attorney general of the Federal Public Ministry, Deltan Dallagnol. The leak sparked controversies and discussions about lawsuits, in addition to questioning the security of WhatsApp's competitor.
Telegram sought to defend itself by saying that it was impossible to steal data from its servers. According to the company, two possibilities could explain the leak: the hijacking of an account and the recovery of its history on a new device or the use of a cell phone possibly infected with malware in this case, the application could not protect the information if the device was committed.
2. SnapTube making unwanted purchases
SnapTube, a popular video app, made unauthorized purchases from users Photo: Reproduo / SnapTube
SnapTube, a popular video app for Android with over 40 million users, was the subject of controversy in 2019 due to purchases made by the app without the consent of its users. The application, which can only be downloaded from alternative stores and is not available on the Google Play Store, made unauthorized clicks on advertisements and service purchases premium.
Over 70 million suspicious transactions have been blocked by the digital security company Upstream, which discovered the malicious activity. If that had not happened, users would have been charged in amounts that would amount to tens of millions of dollars.
The fraud would be associated with the code kit for software development (SDK) Mango, incorporated into SnapTube. The company responsible for the application stated its desire to take legal action against Mango, and a spokesman said that cooperation with the kit was terminated.
3. Apple employees with access to Siri recordings
iOS 13.2 asks if user wants to share Siri recordings with Apple Photo: Rubens Achilles / TechTudo
According to British newspaper publication The Guardian, Apple's outsourced employees had access to excerpts from private recordings recorded by Siri, the iPhone's virtual assistant (iOS). After the story was published, Apple admitted that its contractors could have access to audio of conversations between doctors and patients, negotiations, sexual relations and even drug purchases.
On the other hand, the company stressed that it would be impossible to identify users through the recorded excerpts. The audios would only be a few seconds long and, according to Apple, would only be used to identify situations where Siri was activated by mistake.
However, the employee who revealed the dynamics to the The Guardian he stressed that, precisely because of the need to find out if the software had been activated by mistake, the work includes listening to long passages. As of the launch of iOS 13.2, it became possible to choose not to share the recordings with Apple.
4. Applications with sexist and racist content messages
Skout was one of the targets of an investigation conducted by The Washington Post Photo: Divulgao / Windows Phone Store
Messaging apps available for the iPhone have received more than 1,000 complaints for sexist, racist and bullying content, including unwanted sexual approaches to children.
The Monkey, ChatLive, Yubo, Chat For Strangers, Skout and Holla apps were the target of an investigation conducted by The Washington Post, which analyzed more than 130 thousand evaluations of the programs. The newspaper used a combination of machine learning and manual inspection to identify reviews that mentioned awkward situations.
5. Intimate data from users of menstrual cycle apps sent to Facebook
Maia was one of the targets of research coordinated by the British group Privacy International Photo: Raquel Freire / TechTudo
In September, a survey coordinated by the British group Privacy International stated that menstrual cycle apps would be sharing their users' intimate information with Facebook. Among the types of data sent, there would be the menstrual periods and contraceptives used.
Apps like Maia and Menstrual Calendar would be some of those that would be involved in the improper sending of personal information. However, Mark Zuckerberg's group denied the research findings, which were released on the website BuzzFeed News.
6. Privacy on FaceApp
Zao sparked controversies in China with privacy and deepfake Photo: Reproduo / App Store
Another polemic app in 2019 was Zao, launched in China's App Store in August. The app allows you to create videos with the user's face, transposing it to the bodies of actors in other videos, and also brought suspicions regarding users' privacy. To make the change, the first version of the program requested a "free, irrevocable, permanent and transferable" license for the content generated by its users, which provoked more than 4,000 negative reviews on the Apple store page.
The app was also involved in the broader polemics about deepfake technology. The technique has already been used to transpose the face of Hollywood actresses into fake pornographic videos, in addition to being the target of bills in the United States Congress, which seek to criminalize the practice.
* Rubens Achilles collaborated
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