The smartphone applications with Caller ID and Blocking features are storing your address books into their publicly available databases, according to the latest research by Factwire.
There are many security applications which are used to identify who is calling and to block unknown numbers. Such applications include Truecaller, Sync.me and CM Security. These apps store users’ contact number after the installation. When you input a phone number, the apps search for that particular number into their databases. The “reverse look-up” function allows the users to trace the number and get the name of the person calling. Each app displays the name of the person calling even if he or she is not a registered user.
The research states that numbers cannot simply be obtained by writing the name of a person. But if you have contact number of someone, you can do reverse look-up to search for a name.
BBC found that many British contact numbers including that of former Prime Minister David Cameron have been listed in the database. Security researcher, Rik Ferguson said,
“Data can only be collected for specific, explicitly stated and legitimate purposes, may not be kept for a longer period than is necessary and crucially only with the explicit and informed consent of the data subject,”
Truecaller told BBC, “Truecaller is not in violation of the data protection laws in Sweden, nor across the EU as a whole.”
Truecaller has a database of more than 3 billion users. Sync.me not only allows to search the phone number but also merges the numbers with Facebook IDs. CM security is an antivirus and privacy protection application with millions of users.
Users may not know this but the three apps have mentioned about this in their privacy policies. Truecaller states in the policy,
“You have opted to participate in Enhanced Search Functionality, we may collect, use and share certain information regarding the contacts contained in the users’ phone books (contact information).”
Users have the right to get their numbers delisted from their databases whenever they want. The companies claim to process such requests within a day.