Secret boosts privacy features following Brazil legal woes

Confessional app attempts to strengthen controls as it gets countrywide ban


Since last week's ruling that determined the suspension of mobile confessional app Secret in Brazil and recent revelations that the tool may not be all that anonymous after all, its developers have released a series of improvements to the app in a bid to safeguard user privacy.

Last week, a Brazilian judge ruled that the app be removed from the iTunes Store and Google Play and gave the companies 10 days to do so on the grounds that the Brazilian constitution vetoes anonymity and also states that privacy is inviolable, despite guaranteeing freedom of expression to citizens.

However, ZDNet was able to download the Secret app today from Brazil using a UK iTunes account despite the fact that the tool is now unavailable to Brazilian iOS users.

Following the legal issues in Brazil, new features of the app have been released on Friday (22) for Android users, which will also be available for the iOS version. From now on, only photos taken at the moment the post is being written can be used to illustrate entries as opposed to images previously stored in the device — this avoids use of private images without consent, which was one of the main points of contention in Brazil.

As well as prohibiting the use of proper names, Secret has also improved its screening process to prevent private information and certain feelings, keywords and images from being published. When a possible violation to the privacy policy of the app is detected, the user is alerted and the company's team investigates the possible breach.

Since its arrival in Brazil, Secret has sparked controversy: The app has become a platform for cyberbullying and sharing of private information and images, as well as cases such as a Rio de Janeiro-based teacher who has claimed to be a victim of defamation perpetrated by her own students through the tool.