The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

It is unethical to use Truecaller app

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/25/2015 Category: Technology
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 506 times Debate No: 79048
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




Truecaller is an application which allows a user to find out Name of the person calling from any unknown phone number.
In order to have this facility, the app asks a user to give access to all contacts in phone-book. The phone numbers in the phone-book along with associated names get saved in Truecaller's database. Thus Truecaller gained access to names of millions of phone numbers.

User is trading his/her phone-book contacts for knowing unknown caller. It is unethical to give away personal information of people without their consent.


Let's begin by analyzing what makes something ethical or not. I hope that Pro is not a non-consequentialist whom would state that any act or concept can be inherently wrong or right regardless of context or intended outcome.

If this is the stance of Pro then I ask them to explain why they bothered taking a semi-consequentialist approach to explaining the immorality of using Truecaller app.

Ethics, at their core, are simply the study of what the pinpoint edge of the fine line between right and wrong should be and why it is so. Truecaller requiring the user to give them their phonebook and details is not relevant to the debate. Using the app could not be unethical to yourself since you are consensually giving that information to help the app better locate you contacts to others who may be getting unknown rings from them.

Now let's look into the case of harassment. If someone you do not know is harassing you by calling you over and over and will not seize phoning you, Truecaller is basically your only hope since contacting the police about it would result in them literally using tech at their disposal which would be spending taxpayer's money on what Truecaller would do for you for no tax money at all. This in itself makes it both understandable in intention and more moral in outcome than the alternative method in the possible ethically different paths you could endeavour.

What is also important to consider is the concept of unknown numbers in the first place. If you are ever ringing someone alone you are doing something identical to accessing a website on a proxy server or via VPN. While mild paranoia on the masker's part can be a benign motive for this to prevent being tracked and harassed (making the act of being 'unknown' defence-only and thus moral/ethical) what is far more likely to drive someone to such measures, even people using it in a primarily defensive manner, is the joy and/or pleasure of knowing that any and all times you call someone you are at a severe upper hand if the conversation ever turns ugly. You know their number and with that can track them in a variety of ways more than they can ever do back to you. This is possibly 'fair' to someone who has fully knowledge and capability to make their number unknown but let's think about this for a minute; even someone who has set their phone to 'unknown' and tries their very best to prevent anyone finding them cannot hide their number if the other person is the one calling them. Truecaller is nothing more than a defence against people intentionally denying your ability to defend against them if they begin to give you reason to feel the need to do so thus Truecaller is nothing more than a danger to those seeking to cause it.

While Truecaller can be used to assist in tracking someone down, the only time when someone could ever appear ‘unknown’ to you is if they are the one doing the calling and the only time you would need their number to track them down would be if you didn’t know who they were at all on top of not knowing their number. If someone who you do not know is calling you (which is the only reason to use Truecaller) then they are clearly a danger or nuisance. If you are using it to confirm that who they say they are is who they indeed are then it’s neither moral nor immoral/unethical. It is simply something you can use to then do malice or defend against it.

Debate Round No. 1


Con has said that'Truecaller requiring the user to give them their phonebook and details is not relevant to the debate'. It is very much relevent to the debate. It is the primari reason for which I have started the debate.

Con said -Using the app could not be unethical to yourself since you are consensually giving that information to help the app better locate you contacts to others who may be getting unknown rings from them.

Doing something consensually does not make it right or ethical. The intention of helping others who may get unknown calls is good but that should be limited to user's phone number only. If the app asks the user to give his/her phone number to be stored in their database to help others, no one can say it is wrong or right. It is their phone number and they can do whatever they want with it. (The app can ask user to upload identity proof to avoid fake identities).

But what is happening is - user is giving away phone numbers and names of other people. The user has no right to do it even if it may help others in finding out unknown callers. It is like doing charity with others' money.

My contention is that - you can give your own phone number, but not others. And Truecaller cannot be blamed because it is asking permission of users. It is users who are unethically giving away numbers. If users decline, True caller cannot do anything.

Coming to harassments, the mobile phones in which truecaller can be installed are mostly smart phones. They have feature to block calls and messages from a particular phone number. People can utilise that feature.
(Not all names in the Truecaller database are correct. If I save a phone number as xyz in my phone, it is recorded as such in database. I have seen many numbers wih names such as dad, mom , etc. You cannot completely depend on it.)


Pro is yet to explain how Truecaller is not a fair and ethical defense against people who can only be malicious or at the very least deceptive if they are hiding their number.

Pro mentions blocking a number; how can you block a number if you have no clue what the number is?

How is giving away numbers to an app that is only used defensively and to prevent 'evil' a 'bad' thing? Please elaborate.
Debate Round No. 2


You have right to defend yourselves from malicious calls/people. But the means by which you are defending is not correct. In your process of defending, you are exposing phone numbers of other people to hackers.
In 2013, hacker group called Syrian Electronic Army hacked Truecaller database and downloaded millions of phone numbers.


Any leak of such databses is a gold mine for spammers and fraudsters.

At present, Truecaller enables to know name from a number. What if it introduces reverse search in future? i.e searching a phone number with a name. Then, anyone can know phone number of anyone. It may lead to cases of harassment.

Those are the dangers to which phone numbers are being exposed by Truecaller users.

Hence, giving away phone numbers is a bad thing.
In my country, all phone calls have numbers. So it is possible to block them with in-built phone feature. I don't know much about hidden number



Pro begins bringing up new points in the last round which is commonly seen as poor debate etiquette. They bring up something about hackers (who on Earth is going to hack you from knowing your number?) and also raise the point of fraud and spam becoming easier with TrueCaller App. This is not true because fraudsters tend to target people and then find the number later (rather than find a number and then locate a target). As for spam-calling that's possible without TrueCaller.

Another point they raise is reverse searching but this has nothing to do with the debate as that is not what Truecaller does or currently offers and so is out of the scope of if it is currently unethical.

In actual fact Pro doesn't defend against a single one of my rebuttals at all. The only vague attempt is stating that in Pro's country all numbers are shown but revealing unknown caller numbers as well as then making further use of this is a huge defense which Truecaller offers and is far more ethically beneficial than it is malicious.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tajshar2k 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro loses conduct for introducing an argument in the last round. Also, Pro shows how its unethical of Truecaller to take a user's info, but not how it is un-ethical for a user to use it.