Privacy concerns raised over PNP's human rights app

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Chief Supt. Dennis Siervo, head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office, talks about the Know Your Rights app during a press conference Sunday, December 4, 2017. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Chief Supt. Dennis Siervo, head of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office, talks about the Know Your Rights app during a press conference Sunday, December 4, 2017.

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Privacy-minded Android users may want to steer clear of the recently released Know Your Rights app of the Philippine National Police. 

A series of posts released by tech journalist Art Samaniego Jr. points to potential security risks behind the application.

When trying to install the app – which is purely an informational application and should need no special permissions – the app requests access to one's text messages, phone and phone call logs, and photos and other media files. 

In a second post, Samaniego points to the inclusion of a "backdoor" mention in the code, though it is undetermined if the backdoor mentioned is a joke on the developer's part. 

In computing terminologies, "backdoors" in an app can allow a developer to install other apps onto or bypass encryptions in a user's phone without the user's consent. While the use of "backdoor" in the code may be a bit of placeholder, it also stands as an example of going against secure coding standards. 

The app has since been updated, as of February 7, 2018.

Samaniego recommended that the app of the PNP not be installed until the privacy risks are addressed by the creator of the application.

Rappler has reached out to the developer, Police Chief Inspector Juanito B. Gaces, and the PNP for a comment. They had yet to respond as of press time. 

The PNP unveiled the app on Monday, December 4, to help policemen and the public learn more about human rights-related information. – Rappler.com

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.

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