By Cameron Abbott and Allison Wallace
you inadvertently given the owners of global, searchable databases of phone
numbers and associated names access to your entire contact list?
suspect that you cannot confidently answer “no”.
The Samsung Smart Call function, which is powered by Hiya, boasts that it allows you to “deal with spam the easy way”, by letting you know who is calling you, even if their number is not saved in your contact list. In theory, this is a handy tool, and in the context of robocalls or other unsolicited marketing calls, doesn’t create any privacy issues. But when the database which powers the function contains the names and numbers of (we suspect) millions of private citizens, this becomes quite concerning.
Hiya is of course not the only “caller ID” app on the market – a quick search of the Apple App store reveals numerous other options for download – including Truecaller, Caller-ID, Sync.ME and CallHelp. In 2018, Hiya reached 50 million active users worldwide, while Truecaller’s website says it has over 130 million daily active users. Those figures of course would barely scrape the surface of the number of names and phone numbers held in their collective databases.
case you’re wondering how much damage could really be done by a third party
having access to your name and phone number – think about all of the things
your number is linked to. Your Facebook, your Gmail, maybe even your bank
account and credit cards. Information is power – and this is the kind of
information that could easily allow hackers to wreak a reasonable amount of
So before you sign-up to a new app, take the
time to read the terms of service, because your use could not only be exposing
your personal information, but that of your entire contact list.