Samba.me launches for SxSW and accesses your contacts

Samba.me logo

Samba.me first entered the iTunes store in February 2014 and are preparing for a SxSW appearance for the first time. A privacy policy for the app worries us. They collect both anonymous and identifiable information.

The Samba.me service is a video sharing platform that records the reaction of the receiver and sends it back to the sender. For example I record a skating video (maximum time is 16 seconds) with a person falling. I send the video to a friend via the Samba.me app. When they watch the video it is simultaneously recording their reaction to the video. This recording is then sent right back to me for viewing.

What was interesting was the access and information it needed when performing these features

This information may identify an individual or may be of a private and/or sensitive nature:

  • The Users’ name, e-mail address, device logs and User Generated Content (the “Personal Information”) is being provided voluntarily by the User during registration to the App or Platform, either directly (e.g. phone number, name, e-mail address) or via certain service providers (such as Google Drive, your Android Account etc.) (“Publishers”)

  • The Users mobile phone number and access to the User’s contacts. In order for Samba to provide the Service the Company may have to access the Users’ contact list / phone numbers, device camera. The Company does not import, collect or store the Users contacts onto its servers but may need to keep certain videos or parts thereof for the operation of the service.

It makes perfect sense they need camera access as this service uses video. But the contacts and phone numbers access raised a red privacy flag. I imagine I am only sharing with other Samba.me users as it takes the app on each end for this to work. What my local contacts or my phone number mean to the Samba.me service is not clear.

We finally found the reason why it accesses your contacts and phone numbers in the EULA page and not the Privacy page.  read below.

Please Note: if the other User didn’t download the App, we may send the Video Message through any other platform (e.g SMS, emails etc.) without notifying the sender.

We are hoping to get clarification while at SxSW this week from Samba.me and will update this posting accordingly.