Update: Looks like Truecaller has removed this feature, following our report. The Recent Searches page now redirects to the Truecaller Homepage. (Hat Tip: Aayush in the comments).
Update: Shyam Somanadh points out that one can write a simple script that will run through a list of all possible valid numbers and scrape those pages, as the URLs are not even using a simple hash.
Earlier: Truecaller is listing all the numbers searched by its users on its website. These numbers when clicked on, provides details such as name of the person, his photo, location and even name of the company he works for (see screenshot below). This raises a new set of privacy issues for the company.
Why is Truecaller doing this? The ‘Recent Searches‘ page is listed at the bottom of its homepage and it lists all the searches made by its users from across the world, sorted by country. Truecaller pitches itself as a service that helps users avoid spam calls and there is a similar page listing all spam numbers reported by its users. This might be of help to some users, but it’s not clear why the company lists all the searches made by its users on open web.
As of now there are around 4.8 million results from India alone on this ‘Recent Searches’ page. It is worth noting that the details of these persons are only visible when logged in. Which again, is not a big hurdle as you can create a Truecaller id on the web without sharing your mobile number, using a throwaway Twitter account.
Such a public listing of numbers leaves the door open for scrapers. Marketing companies that would otherwise call up people to get all this information can do via Truecaller. They could create a throwaway account and may be even create a bot that would follow the link of each mobile number and scrape information from those pages.
There are legitimate use cases for Truecaller as well: For instance, it had announced an integration of the Yelp API as part of its new product launch on Android and iOS, which allows users to identify reviewed businesses and view their ratings globally. It had also partnered with Twitter to allow users of its Android app in the country view whether a mobile number is connected to a Twitter account and follow them directly or send them a tweet right from the Truecaller app.
Growing fast: Truecaller is growing at a rapid pace in India. It had claims it had 30 million registered users in India back in April, up from 22 million users here in December 2013. All the numbers and details of the people are uploaded from the address book of the people who have installed the app. The company notes that it is not mandatory for people to upload their address books to its servers.
Truecaller had raised $18.8 million from Sequoia Capital, Open Ocean, Truecaller Chairman Stefan Lennhammer, and an unnamed private investor in February 2014. Before that it had raised $1.3 million from the Open Ocean in September 2012.
Delist your number from Truecaller
In case your number was added to Truecaller by a friend, the company offers a way to delist, but we are not sure how many people are aware that their number is already shared on the service.