The quarantine we are going through from the Covid-19 crisis it has forced many people unfamiliar with technology to use it. Elderly people who refused to operate with ATMs had to get used to banking procedures via the web and payments through applications. Retailers had to adapt to selling on Facebook, and schools without distance learning platforms turned to Zoom to continue teaching.
The point is that mMany of those apps have security concerns and dubious privacy policies. Those of us who operate with them on a daily basis generally know what their risks are, how to mitigate them and, where we can, we find alternatives.
In Linux Addicts we already take care of Zoom enough, now it is the turn of another of the star applications of this quarantine.
What about Houseparty?
It is an application thatue allows access to a social network in which up to eight people can meet through video chat in a virtual room. Each user has access to infinite rooms and can easily switch between them. Users are notified when their friends open the app and can join chats with them and with their friends' friends.
Once registered in the application, the user can now organize a party in a virtual room. However, Unless you take the precaution of this room, complete strangers can also join. Cases of what is known as "bombing" have been recorded. This is that aSome people go into the classrooms and show pornographic images or themselves without clothes. This can be avoided by adjusting the privacy settings. But it is up to you to do this is: it is not the default setting.
Another problem is that When a user registers in the application, their contacts are notified. If you accept their friend requests, they will receive a notification when they start a Houseparty chat and they will be able to enter unless you prevent it in the configuration options.
Ray Walsh, of the research firm Pro Privacy, does not walk around. He defines it as "A privacy nightmare"
Anyone who decides to use the Houseparty app to keep in touch during quarantine should be aware that the app collects a troubling amount of personal information.
To this is added that on Android devices You can delete the application, but if you want to delete your account you will have to send an email to technical support.
Data and privacy expert Suzanne Vergnolle commented on Twitter that eIt is likely that the application also does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union (GDPR).
Vergnolle added that The application tracks users in its default settings and there is no guarantee that data deletion requests will be fulfilled.
The company's response
Houseparty privacy policies occupy 12000 words, those who read them assure that They agree not to share the telephone number of the users and their contacts with anyone.
The controversy jumped when the news spread that Stolen access data from Houseparty users was used to try to access Netflix and Spotify.
Epic, the company that owns Houseparty, responded by stating that he was' investigating the evidence that these complaints originated from a campaign paid for by an unidentified competitor.
According to PrivacySpy, a site dedicated to analyzing respect for privacy standards, Epic Games has a terrible rating of 2,3 out of 10 for their privacy practices. Some of its flaws include allowing third party access to personal data and failing to notify users in the event of a data breach. The Epic Games store also faced European Union regulations on personal data protection in 2018.