Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Review date: Sept. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

Marco Polo is less a video call app and more a video sharing app. There are no real-time calls. Instead, users record and share videos (or texts or audio-only recordings)--called Polos--with people in their contacts. Record a video of you dancing with your dog. Upload it and leave it for your friend or family group. They'll hop on and view it when they have a moment and reply with a video of their own. Call, respond, Marco, Polo. Get it? Marco Polo has been around since 2014. Thanks to pandemic growth, some enthusiastic celebrity users like P!nk, Amy Poehler, and Ice T, and apparently the US state of Utah (which one report said has the app's biggest user base, who knew?), Marco Polo now has over ten million users worldwide.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Marco Polo seems to do an OK job protecting your privacy. It uses encryption in transit and at rest. It does not use stronger end-to-end encryption because they say they want to be able to retrieve those precious memories of yours stored on their servers if you happen to lose your phone. One thing that does worry us a little is how Marco Polo handles the deletion of those precious Polo videos. If you chose to delete your account, remember to delete all your Polos first, as it appears users aren’t able to delete these videos after you delete your account. And any Polos you don’t delete can remain accessible to other users. What's the worst that could happen? Well, we’d hate for that super embarrassing Polo you sent that one drunken night to remain available to dig up even after you delete your Marco Polo account. No one needs that stuff hanging around the internet forever.

mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: N/A

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Marco Polo claims they don't use your personal information for ad targeting. The company shares your data with other users and third-party providers, though. The company claims that "Service Providers will have access to your Personal Information needed to perform their business functions, but may not use or share that Personal Information for purposes outside the scope of their functions related to the Service". Be careful: people that already have your phone number in their phone’s address book, may see your name, photo, mobile number, email, birth day and/or birth month.

How can you control your data?

Marco Polo says they can retain all your data indefinitely, unless you delete your account. If you delete your account, your personal information and any scrapbooks you recorded will be deleted plus you will be removed from any Marco Polo groups. The retention periods and retention methods are not provided. Even after you delete your account, your videos (Polos) will remain accessible to other users. Moreover, you can not delete any videos after deleting the account.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

In the past, Marco Polo sent text message invitations from your phone to your top contacts without explicit permission. These invitations used your nickname from their contact list, thus personalising a message like "Hi bunny! Please download Marco Polo app, so that I can send you a video!"

Can this product be used offline?

N/A

User-friendly privacy information?

No

The privacy policy is written using overly abstract language, and it seems to hide the app's weaknesses behind legalese clauses.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

No end-to-end encryption, but encryption at rest and in transit.

Strong password

N/A

There is no password requirement in Marco Polo. To sign up, an SMS authentication is used.

Security updates

Yes

Marco Polo is updated weekly, and each update is annotated with what is new.

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Vulnerabilities can be reported here https://www.marcopolo.me/vulnerability-policy/

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine


News

Data Breach of the Week — Marco Polo
Ally
One of the main security concerns is whether the app is doing enough to protect its younger users from online predators.
Someone knows something about this Marco Polo app that we don’t
TechCrunch
There’s a whisper in the venture community we’re hearing that is growing increasingly louder, and it’s about this video walkie-talkie app called Marco Polo.

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