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Paytm wants to read your SMS: Privacy threat?

One97 Communications subsidiary PayTM has introduced a new ‘spam-proof’ SMS inbox that helps you classify your text messages into ‘Personal, Transactional and Promotional’ messages.

Similar to Google’s Gmail’s filters that separate promotional, social and other emails, Paytm SMS inbox uses a proprietary machine learning algorithm that helps the app classify your SMS in the categories mentioned above.

Aimed to provide a clutter-free experience, Paytm says that the ‘SMS categorisation is done locally on your device by the Paytm app after you give an explicit consent to avail this service.’

Now, while this might seem like a fair deal but Paytm has had a troubled past as on quite a few occasions they’ve intruded their customer’s privacy.

You might also like: 90 million Facebook accounts affected by security vulnerability: Is yours too?

How does the classification on Paytm app work?

If you choose to activate the feature, Paytm Inbox app will show you various classifications of SMS categories that can be customised. You can delete or reclassify a thread too.

“The Machine Learning engine remembers your inputs and updates itself accordingly to customize its detection patterns and enhance user experience while removing the need to have a dedicated standalone SMS spam protection app on your phone,” Paytm stated.

The company has mentioned that by default the app will classify your SMSes in the following three categories: personal, promotional and transactional.

They also mention that a proprietary machine learning algorithm is being used to classify the SMS received by your device.

Now while the categorisation might be done locally, the Paytm machine learning algorithm that enables the categorisation in all likeliness feeds some metadata to the backend servers at the company supporting the algorithm.

If not, then you’re going to have a field day expanding the memory on your device to let the machine learning algorithm store the data it learns.

However, the former seems more likely as Paytm says that they need your ‘explicit consent to avail this service’ and given their track record, a benefit of the doubt is something one can not afford to grant them.

Google says Paytm’s privacy policy and ToS pages are not secure

Paytm wants to read your SMS via SMS Inbox: Privacy threat?

When we accessed Paytm’s Privacy policy page and their Terms of Condition, Google warned us that the ‘page is trying to load scripts from unauthenticated sources’, which surely doesn’t look like a good sign on a webpage owned by a multi-billion corporate.

Paytm wants to read your SMS via SMS Inbox: Privacy threat?

Paytm’s privacy policy reads that they collect your information to — among other things — ‘enforce our terms and conditions’. and they also ‘reserve the right to communicate your personal information to any third party that makes a legally-compliant request for its disclosure.’

The company was founded by Vijay Shekhar in 2010 and is currently valued at over $10 billion. Paytm’s investors include Ant Financial, SoftBank, Alibaba, SAIF Partners and most recently, Berkshire Hathaway.

Also read: Paytm AI Cloud launched in India for Devs, Startups and Enterprises

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