The clubhouse is releasing a security update on Chinese data sharing concerns

The clubhouse didn’t officially release in China and was banned just a few days ago, but the app’s creators are still nervous enough to take action.

Sometime during the long US holiday weekend, developer Alpha Exploration Co. making backend changes that boost service encryption and prevent user IDs from being passed through servers in China. The Clubhouse dev also promised that “an external data security company … would review and validate these changes.”

The move follows a detailed report from Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) highlighting the previously unreported audio chat app’s links to tech interest in China. Agora is an “interactive video, voice and live streaming platform” that provides backend services to Clubhouse – that is to host and pip the app’s raw audio across the internet.

This is particularly worrying, as the SIO notes, because “a unique Clubhouse ID number and chat room ID are transmitted in plaintext, and Agora seems to have access to the raw audio of the loader. -use. “Imagine that a Chinese citizen is hosting a cat on an exciting topic, and then the accompanying data will be able to link the user and the Club ID to an audio from the chat.

Agora is headquartered in the U.S. and China, which means the company is subject to a cyber-restriction law requiring it to provide assistance in any criminal or national security investigation. And while Agora says it won’t store any audio or user data, there are real concerns about data privacy when it comes to Chinese companies.

The details here get very technical, but Clubhouse stores users ’audio for a period of time for reliability and safety checks. That audio is stored in the U.S. – which effectively puts it out of the reach of the Chinese government – but it could still be in jeopardy if an outside partner, such as, say, Agora is formed. , the audio somewhere inside China.

As a result of a detailed SIO review, which you should definitely read through for more details, Clubhouse is going to see some backend changes. The report concludes with a statement from Alpha Exploration running through the plans.

“With the help of researchers at Stanford Internet Observatory, we have identified a few areas where we can further strengthen our data protection,” the statement reads, continuing to make the changes. explained at the beginning of this story. “We welcome collaboration with the security and privacy community as we continue to grow.”

As we said earlier in the week, it is unclear exactly what won an official ban in China for Club. There may be no single cause. Although the app was never released there, as Alpha Exploration explained in its SIO statement, people in China found areas of work that allowed them to get online.

h / t Engadget