India’s own vernacular social media platform Koo has found itself in the middle of a controversy. A French hacker named Robert Baptiste also known as Elliot Alderson on Twitter has revealed that the social media platform is leaking data of its users. Another claim was made that the platform is allegedly receiving funding from the Chinese.
Alderson took to Twitter to share his findings after some netizens asked him to test the Koo platform. The hacktivist claims that he spent 30 minutes on this new format and found that the app is leaking personal data of the users such as email id, date of birth, name, marital status, gender, etc.
Alderson also claimed that the IP geolocation or the IP address of the Koo platform is located in the United States of America. However, his major finding was that the Indian social media platform was registered by a Chinese organisation in the state of Jiangxi in China.
However, soon after the findings were revealed, Co-founder and Koo CEO Aprameya Radhakrishna said that the Chinese investor Shunwei Capital is in the process of exiting. “Shunwei had invested in the earlier brand Vokal. We have pivoted our business and focused on Koo, they are on their way out. They are being bought out by other people. We are a truly Aatmanirbhar Bharat app,” said Radhakrishna, adding that Shunwei is presently a very small stakeholder in the company and their stake will be bought out.
Radhakrishna said that the Koo is an Indian registered app, funded by an Indian investor. “Koo is an India registered company with Indian founders. Latest fund for Bombinate Technologies is led by a truly Indian investor 3one4 capital,” he said.
According to reports, Radhakrishna also said that the profile data was voluntarily provided. “When a user sets up a profile on Koo, information like name, handle, profession, bio, website, email, mobile, date of birth, gender, marital status, qualification, work experience etc. Providing this information is voluntary as only valid mobile phone number is required for creating an account,” he said, adding that the controversy is unnecessary and it cannot be termed as a data leak.
Alderson said that he had checked the data leak and confirmed that Radhakrishnan is lying.
This development has led to many Twitter users trolling Koo. The platform already has many Indian Union Ministers and other senior officials signed up. The platform’s popularity increased after animosity between the Centre and Twitter began rising over disagreements of suspending accounts.
It is quite ironic how an “Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant), homegrown vernacular micro-blogging platform” is allegedly funded by a Chinese firm and the IP geolocation of the format is shown as the USA when the Centre had earlier banned Chinese apps in the country for alleged “data leak”. During its confrontation with China on the border dispute, the Centre decided to ban Chinese apps like TikTok, etc. However, now, netizens are calling out the hypocrisy over the Koo platform’s funding and other controversies.
Latest update from the hacktivist says that while Koo admitted only to the email leakage, behind the curtains they also fixed the date of birth and marital status leakage.
However, interestingly, Twitter has decided to suspend Koo’s official account on the microblogging site.