Hyderabad: Users of MyGate, the app-based security management system for gated communities and apartment complexes, have accused the firm of collecting unnecessary amounts of data. They said that the Bengaluru-based start-up is playing fast and loose with user data, and sharing it with third-parties without their consent.
MyGate’s application is used by many gated communities in the city. Residents of these communities can use the app to manage entry and exit of people.
Security guards are given devices wherein they can enter the details of visitors before they allow them inside.
Interestingly, MyGate deals with residents welfare associations (RWA) directly, and not individual residents. Provided the RWA
agrees to start using MyGate, even non-consenting resients have no choice but to be part of the company’s ecosystem.
Naren (name changed on request), resident of one of these communities, said, “By default, it is not ‘opt in’ but ‘opt out’. You have no choice but to use MyGate if your RWA has decided. Of course, MyGate says there is a way to opt out but it is hidden behind many settings’ screens and very complicated. I haven’t figured it out till now.”
Observers have said the amount of data that MyGate has in its database is a matter of concern. A cybersecurity activist from the city said, “MyGate knows everything about you — right from the people who visit you through visitor logs to the the kind of food you eat through delivery data. It is a data-collection agency masquerading as a security start-up.” He added that if this data were to be stolen or compromised, it would be a massive risk to the residents.
Users and activists said there are other concerns as well. Third-parties like Swiggy and Dunzo (delivery services) have entered into an agreement for data-sharing for “silent pre-approvals” of deliveries.
Naren explained, “When a Swiggy delivery person arrives, I no longer have to approve him. He can come to my door directly. But here is the problem: How can Swiggy and Dunzy share my data with MyGate without my consent? Also, there is no way for me to opt out of this model as these apps don’t have this option.”
He added that as a MyGate user, he felt insecure. “It is like MyGate is a personal stalker who you are paying to stalk. It can go rogue anytime,” he said.
Another resident of one of MyGate-enabled localities said MyGate was bad for privacy within the family as well. “The app is used by the whole family. So when I order for something, the whole family gets a notification. In essence, you can’t even order a surprise cake for someone!” he said.
There is also the problem of security guards not being trained to use MyGate. A visitor to one of these apartments said he was not allowed to visit his friend because he refused to enter his mobile phone details in the app. MyGate responded to his complaint on Twitter that providing mobile phone details wasn’t necessary. However, residents said the app doesn’t allow them to pre-approve visitors without their mobile phone details.
On its website, MyGate says it does not share the data it collects with anyone. It also claims that the the owner of this data is actually the RWA and not itself since it only acts as an intermediary.
MyGate did not respond to Deccan Chronicle’s request for a comment. Naren said that according to current laws MyGate is not doing anything illegal. “But the app collects a lot of data and there are many possibilities for abuse,” he said....