- The Washington Times - Monday, April 12, 2021

The invitation-only social networking app Clubhouse said it was not the victim of a hack amid concerns that data scraped from its users had become available online.

Large datasets of users’ personal information gathered from popular social networking platforms Facebook and LinkedIn have become more widely available online in recent weeks, sparking new worries about users’ data privacy. Those compiling the data appear to have used scraping, which involves gathering information from websites often through the use of software tools.

A database containing 1.3 million Clubhouse users’ information recently spread online, according to Cyber News. The database contains user IDs, who invited the users to Clubhouse, and the usernames for Twitter or Instagram accounts shared by Clubhouse users, among other things.

Such information is available to Clubhouse users on the invitation-only platform, where users gather to talk and listen on the audio-based app.

Clubhouse disputed on Twitter that it had suffered any data breach.

“Clubhouse has not been breached or hacked,” the company said from its @joinClubhouse account on Twitter. “The data referred to is all public profile information from our app, which anyone can access via the app or our [application programming interface].”

While the scraped data violates the rules of companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn, it may not be illegal nor constitute hacking. Federal law prohibits unauthorized access or exceeding authorized access to a computer, but the data scraped from the social networking platforms looks to have been largely available to users of those platforms.

The value of the massive data sets could prove valuable to marketers and others looking to surveil users online. Large collections of users’ data can also prove damaging in places where internet access and free expression are restricted. For example, Facebook revealed last month that it disrupted attempts by Chinese hackers to target Uyghurs, particularly those living abroad.

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