The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), an Indian advocacy group for Digital Rights and Privacy, has expressed concerns over the popular American Clubhouse audio-only social media platform. The App has been accused of collecting “excessive data” and violating the right to informational privacy. The practices of the platform conflict with the data minimization principle and informed consent. Clubhouse “should provide a Human Rights Policy and volunteer for a Civil Rights Audit” the IFF quoted in their blog post.
Clubhouse is presently being enjoyed in India by over 2.6 million people following its launch on Android in May. The social networking audio-only app is popular because of its drop-in and drop-out design. It enables people to host conversations and participate in those that are not too intrusive to use the platform and allows users to be involved in talks across the world.
Name, address, contact info, phone numbers, IP address, device name, operating system details, the individuals a user interacts with, and time, frequency, and duration of use are all collected by the app. Furthermore, as users link Clubhouse to other services like Instagram or Twitter, it gains access to information shared on other platforms. It also collects phone numbers in the contact list based on permission, even for people who aren’t on the platform.
Clubhouse also records discussions for the purpose of inquiry, which is essential in order for the platform to filter content for trust and safety concerns. The IFF also highlighted that it does not specify ‘the constitution’ of its Community guidelines for the review, and the standard operating process for investigations. The way Clubhouse analyzes a chat session after it has ended is also unclear because the platform promises to not save data after a chat room has been shut down.
Over the last year, India has seen an increase in users of the viral audio-only app. Clubhouse has seen enough growth in its user base to expand its Creator First monetization initiative to India. Outside of the United States, the country is one of the first to get access to this program. Clubhouse uses it to provide creators with production, monetary, and other resources to help them create content for the platform.