'Clubhouse' app is flooded with voices of the people of China: privacy is an issue
Updated: Feb 12
Users beware of potential privacy risks! See Apple Daily article below.
'Clubhouse' app is the first time since 1989 that so many people in mainland China have been able to freely express their views!
The one element that could knock Emperor Xi Jinping off his wobbly old perch is open and free speech online in China!
Apple Daily 12 February 2021 'Chinese tech giant Alibaba set to copy recently-banned Clubhouse with near identical voice chat app'
Apple Daily 11 February 2021 'Why Beijing fears Clubhouse｜Glacier Kwong'
RFA 9 February 2021 'China Blocks Clubhouse App After Users Embrace 'Sensitive' Political Topics'
RTHK 8 February 2021 'China blocks access to discussion app Clubhouse'
Potential security risks for popular Clubhouse app, linked to Chinese voice chat firm: experts
Apple Daily 7 February 2021
Hong Kong tech experts have warned of the potential security risks for those using the latest popular social networking app 'Clubhouse'.The app developed by Alpha Exploration allows for thousands of users to voice chat within a room. Users can only join the app on an invitation basis, with invites selling at 999 yuan (US$154) in mainland China. Famous users include Tesla’s billionaire founder Elon Musk.
The app was launched less than a year ago by the Silicon Valley-based company, and is only available on Apple’s App Store. It has been downloaded more than 2.4 million times worldwide, with more than two million active users every week.
But as the app has garnered a huge following, it has since been found to be using voice chat technology from Shanghai-based company Agora.
Many users put their faces and real names on the app, and they should be careful when talking about sensitive matters whilst using it, Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Honorary President Francis Fong said.
If the app uses Agora’s cloud platform to store data, China may have the jurisdiction to obtain it, Fong warned. It would not be problematic if the app only uses Agora’s technology and not its cloud service, he said.
Clubhouse has stressed it does not monitor or record user discussions for commercial use.
There would be a security risk if the app developer can obtain users’ phone numbers and records their voices online, said Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Vice President and Convener of Cybersecurity Eric Fan. Phone numbers and voices are sensitive private information as banks have started adopting voice recognition, he said.
It is difficult for foreign developers to avoid having Chinese funds or using Chinese technologies, Fan said, with the better approach to introduce third-party privacy security certification such as the European standard.
Click here for Chinese version.
"Elite Club" without censorship? Chinese netizens flock to discuss the issue of Xinjiang, Taiwan independence
RFI 07/02/2021 (Google Translator)
The private American voice community software "Elite Club" Clubhouse has not yet been censored by the Chinese authorities, so it is attracting a large number of Chinese users to join, and a large number of discussions on human rights, national identity and other sensitive issues have also emerged on the platform.
Central News Agency said it is still unclear why Clubhouse has not been blocked in China. However, some foreign websites with only a small group of Chinese users can still continue to operate under the Beijing speech censorship radar scan, such as the base camp of conspiracy theory trackers 8kun.
According to a report by the Central News Agency today, Clubhouse has no censorship, and Chinese netizens have poured in to discuss the issue of Taiwan independence and Xinjiang. According to the report, Clubhouse was launched at the beginning of last year. Recently, CEO Elon Musk of electric car manufacturer Tesla and Vlad Tenev, CEO of online brokerage firm Robinhood suddenly appeared on the platform. Dialogue, users suddenly increased. Clubhouse's discussion forum can only be joined through invitations from existing members. As of today, on major online shopping platforms in China, Clubhouse invitation letter bids have reached RMB 50 to 400 (about NT $ 215 to 1,720).
The Central News Agency quoted Reuters reporters directly observing that in several Chinese "clubs" in Clubhouse, thousands of users listened to a wide range of audio discussions, ranging from Xinjiang internment camps, Taiwan independence to the national security law in Hong Kong.
Because Beijing strictly censors Chinese networks to remove content that may damage the CCP’s prestige, Western social media applications (apps) including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been blocked in China. In recent years, China's Internet censorship has become increasingly stringent, and banned applications, media, and social networking sites have continued to expand.
Although Clubhouse has not yet faced the Chinese Communist Party’s censorship, it is currently only available for devices equipped with Apple Inc.'s iOS app, and it is not available on the Apple App Store in China. Two major obstacles have affected the popularity of this app in China:
Local netizens can only download and use by changing the app store location.
It is still unclear why Clubhouse has not been blocked in China.
However, some foreign websites with only a small group of Chinese users can still continue to operate under the Beijing speech censorship radar scan, such as the base camp of conspiracy theory trackers 8kun.
According to the report, there is a discussion area focusing on Hong Kong politics in Clubhouse, where activists, reporters and artists discuss the issue of former US President Trump and Hong Kong fans.
Another Chinese discussion forum, which was still very popular as of yesterday, showed rare open exchanges among netizens in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong on the issue of rising regional political tensions.
Even on Weibo, an officially approved Chinese social networking site, the Clubhouse phenomenon became a hot topic yesterday. One netizen wrote: "I don't know how long this (free speech) environment will last, but I will always remember this moment in Internet history."
For a brief period, there was a platform for sensitive political debate in China. Then censors shut it down, (CNN Business, 9 February 2021)