Clubhouse is reviewing data protection practices after a report from the Stanford Internet Monitor said it contained security flaws that left users’ data vulnerable to access from the Chinese government.
In response to the study, published by the Stanford University research group, the app said that although it chose not to make the application available in China, some people have found a solution to download the application, which means that the conversations they were part of can be transferred via Chinese servers.
“With the help of researchers at the Stanford Internet Observatory, we have identified a few areas where we can enhance our data protection,” the company said in a statement released by the research group.
The statement added: We are adding changes over the next hours to bring in more encryption in order to prevent Clubhouse customers from sending votes to Chinese servers, and we also plan to engage an external data security company to review and verify these changes.
The app was launched in early 2020, and saw global user numbers soar earlier this month after Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev held a surprising discussion on the platform. .
Crowds of new users from China joined and participated in discussions on topics including sensitive issues, such as: the internment camps in Xinjiang and the National Security Law in Hong Kong.
But their access to the app was blocked last week, sparking frustration and fears of government censorship.
Stanford Internet Monitor confirmed that Chinese technology company Agora has provided a back-end infrastructure for the Clubhouse app, and Agora will likely be able to access users’ voice chats, which could provide access to the Chinese government.
He also said: he noticed the room metadata being transferred to servers he believed to be hosted in China and voice to servers run by Chinese entities.
But he added that he believed the Chinese government would not be able to access the data if the audio was stored in the United States.
The report said: Stanford Internet Observatory has chosen to disclose these security issues given that they are relatively easy to detect and because they pose immediate security risks to millions of Clubhouse users, particularly in China.
Data analytics company Sensor Tower said: The app, available on the iPhone only, had about 3.6 million users worldwide as of February 2, with 1.1 million registered in the previous six days.