Koo app founder blasts privacy critics, says will get rid of Chinese connection

New York: Responding to intense criticism over users’ privacy and data leak, home-grown Koo app founder Aprameya Radhakrishna has said that the firm is looking into it and called the data breach claim as ‘fairly exaggerated.’ 

Aprameya Radhakrishna, during an interview, also brushed aside criticism over links with China. Radhakrishna confirmed that the Made-in-India Koo app will soon get rid of its Chinese investor. The reaction from the Koo founder came after social media users started raising questions over the app’s Chinese connection. 

Responding to concerns over users’ privacy and data leak, Aprameya Radhakrishna said, “The data breach claims on Koo are fairly exaggerated. 95 per cent of Koo users log in through their mobile phone number. Language communities of India do not use email to log in and hence was not the priority of the company. Email login was introduced recently. Now that concerns have been raised, it has already been blocked from view.’’

“The data that was leaked was publicly accessible already. It’d be unfair to term it as a breach. There were some issues with session token management which claimed to provide access to some accounts. This has already been fixed and the tokens invalidated,” the CEO said.

The home-grown app has, in a matter of a few days, gained considerable traction as top Narendra Modi government ministers and BJP politicians have endorsed the desi microblogging platform.

Despite criticism and concerns over users’ data and privacy, India`s multilingual microblogging platform Koo has seen its daily active user base explode nearly 30x since January and rapidly moving towards the 1 million-mark.

“I am an Indian as a founder, my co-founder is an Indian and we are deeply connected with what we are building. And that’s why the market even exists. We are a 10-month-old company. And there will be a few teething issues. We were taken by surprise by the kind of love that we’ve gotten from all the users in India. And we would want them to join us in this journey of building,” Koo co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna said.

It may be recalled that a French hacker, who goes by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson, has posted online “You asked so I did it. I spent 30 min on this new Koo app. The app is leaking the personal data of his users: email, dob, name, marital status, gender.”

Reacting to this, Radhakrishna said Koo`s developers initially focused their attention on use cases where email wasn`t the default mode of entry. “When the issues showed up, we fixed it immediately,” he said.

Referring to concerns over the China link, the Koo team responded by saying  “factually incorrect.” 

“Koo is fully owned by Bombinate Technologies Pvt Ltd and domiciled in India. All data and associated servers are also run out of India. The team is headquartered in Bengaluru,” the Koo team explained. As on date, Koo counts Accel Partners, 3one4 Capital, Blume Ventures, and Kalaari Capital among its investors.

Shunwei, the lone global venture capital firm with China links in the Koo structure, has “committed to exiting the company,” Radhakrishna said. Koo expects to close the issue in “about a month”. Shunwei had invested in an earlier product from the same team, called Vokal, he added.

“Due to the increased restrictions on Chinese investors in India, the exit procedure was working through the required checks and clarifications before being completed,” Radhakrishna said. The Koo team launched a strident response, to multiple concerns that have risen in parallel with its ascendancy and Twitter`s run-in with the Indian government over accounts peddling lies.

On political exposure, the Koo team said, “Any statements alleging political connections or organised political involvement are factually incorrect. We are driving a platform for every Indian and like every citizen and Indian company, we are bound by Indian Law and the Constitution of India. Like the principle of our Constitution, we also believe in making it an ‘of the people, by the people and for the people` platform. Currently, We have Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, BS Yediyurappa, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, HD Devegowda, HD Kumaraswamy, Priyank Kharge on our platform to name of few and we are sure that over the coming days personalities across the political spectrum will join us to connect with their regional audience.”

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(With IANS inputs)

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