Firechat, this «freedom of speech-app» is bogus

Xavier listes at
Mon Sep 29 23:23:09 PDT 2014

Hello there,

Mostly I'm just a lurker here but for once I will ask some
questions/make remarks about Firechat.

As you may know, this app just got extensive media coverage due to
their widespread use in Hong Kong «Occupy-central». Check on the
Guardian for

So, out of curiosity, I just downloaded the app. Below are my remarks
on the process:

- You can't directly download the apk from the website. For android,
  the only link available is from the Google store. As if, if you
  really need privacy and freedom of speech, the first thing that you
  do is have a google account linked to your android device. I
  downloaded the app from Aptoide, but well…

- Once you download the app, required permissions include:
	- Localization
	- Read contacts
	- Search accounts on the device

How are those permissions necessary ? I just want to connect to nearby
people. I don't need firechat servers to point me to those people nor
to know where I am or with whom I chat.

- Once you launch the app, there comes the cherry on the cake, you need
  to have properly activated and updated Google Play background
  services in order to run the app. I suppose that it implies that you
  must have a Google account linked to your device and that, thanks to
  the «Search account» permission, Firechat just like Google are
  perfectly aware of who you exactly are ??

If my goal was just to chat with my neighbors without paying during
the Worldcup, that would be fine, but the problem here is that this app
is now also marketed in newspapers as a privacy app, thanks to Hong Kong

When the product was released a few month ago, I already tried it but
abandoned immediately due to those privacy problems. What I want first
of all is privacy, not to avoid paying my provider. Now I understand
that for Hong Kong people this is a lesser evil solution because they
fear an Internet shutdown, but well, I am disappointed to remark that
«freedom-of-speech» and «privacy-aware» are so strongly disconnected
even in a promising app like this one. 


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