Quibi Leaked User Info To Advertisers And Trackers Without Permission

PARK CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 24: Jeffrey Katzenberg demonstrates Quibi's Turnstyle technology at Sundance 2020 on January 24, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Quibi)

By Jonathan Easton

Nascent short form streamer Quibi shared the email addresses of its users with third-parties without permission, new research has found.

According to a report from Zach Edwards of analytics consultancy Victory Medium, the Jeffrey Katzenberg-founded company has made the email addresses of users available to the likes of Google, Twitter Snapchat and Facebook in order to make them easier to target with advertising.

Edwards wrote: “When a user clicks the email confirmation link, their email address is appended into the URL they are clicking in plain text, and sent to 3rd party advertising and analytics companies.”

The report looking into popular services which leak user information to advertisers and trackers, referred to Quibi as “one of the most egregious in this research.” It argues that as a new tech firm “launched well after both GDPR and CCPA went into effect”, it should not be launching with technology that can pass that information along.

Edwards continued: “Out of all the data breaches in this research, the Quibi research is the hardest to swallow due to how new this organisation is, and how much money they had to push into their marketing and advertising to grow new users — it’s an extremely disrespectful decision to purposefully leak all new user emails to your advertising partners, and there’s almost no way that numerous people at Quibi were not only aware of this plan, but helped to architect this user data breach.”

While Quibi’s privacy policy does note that it “may share personal information with third-party service providers for them to facilitate services they provide to us,” this particular sharing has been acknowledged as an error on the company’s part.

In a statement issued after the report’s publication, Quibi said that it had addressed the issue when it was notified. The statement said: “Data protection is essential to Quibi and the security of user information is of the highest priority. The moment the issue on our web page was revealed to our security and engineering team, we fixed it immediately.”

Quibi has seen a promising first month, with Katzenberg saying that the app was downloaded more than 2.7 million times in its first fortnight of availability. This is not necessarily a reflection on the amount of users, with many individuals likely to be downloading the app on multiple devices and taking part of the service’s 90 day free trial.

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