Central agencies pry on Clubhouse chat rooms

The audio-only App hosts live discussions 24/7

June 09, 2021 08:35 pm | Updated 08:35 pm IST - Kozhikode

With a surging number of users in the Android version of Clubhouse, Central agencies has now started snooping on voice chat rooms of the audio-only App that hosts live discussions 24/7.

Sources said that at least a dozen Central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, Narcotics Control Bureau and Central Board of Direct Taxes, have been authorised to track the rooms scheduled by clubs that is generating excitement or individual or group chats in open or closed rooms in real-time.

The audio-drop in the startup that has been attracting a bevy of early users on to conversations on a multiple of topics seemed to have been the latest prying room for investigation agencies.

Under IT Act

Some of these security and Intelligence agencies have been empowered to act under Sub-section(1) Section 69 of the Information Technology Act 2000 read with rule of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information Rules, 2009), the sources said.

Now with Central agencies furtively trying to extract information from chat rooms, many believe that the Clubhouse app, which has been created during the COVID-19 pandemic for participatory speaking and listening, would be subjected to electronic surveillance.

The App was first introduced to iOS ( mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc) in March 2020 with a beta launch for Android in May. Clubhouse beta testers are also getting new features as well.

Privacy policy

Incidentally in its privacy policy released on May 9, Clubhouse has stated that it would share personal information to law enforcement, government authorities and private parties as it believed necessary to “protect our, your, or others rights, privacy, safety or property (including by making and defending legal claims), enforce the terms and conditions that govern the App and protect, investigating and deter against fraudulent , harmful , unauthorised , unethical or illegal activity.”

Sources said that Clubhouse records audio conversations and downloads subtitles. And it shall be passed on to investigation agencies if required. Also, users after joining a club or room can record Clubhouse audio chats with ease on a built-in screen recorder Android device or iPhone. That apart, users can use third-party screen recording Apps.

On data security, it says “you can use the App at your own risk” and states that “we are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures in the App” and on children it says “the App is not intended for use by children under 18 years of age. If we learn that we have collected personal information through the App from a child under 18 without the consent of the child's parent or guardian as required by law, we will delete it.”

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