"Why does InstaSnap use my phone number?"
Some user’s have asked this question and we wanted to take a few minutes to answer it. I wrote a user back, so I’ll post the conversation here. The short version is, “InstaSnap works like an MMS service. The only personal information it uses is the phone number and that’s to uniquely identify every user and insure security and safety”
Here’s the long version…
Question 1: “Why do you need to verify the phone number?” This is done for your security and safety. Without verifying the phone number, it would be possible for someone to send pictures to the wrong InstaSnap user. As an example, if User A verifies a number that he thinks is his, but actually inputs User B’s phone number, this would cause problems for User C (who is friends with User A) when he sends a picture to User A, but it goes to User B.
And this is something that’s not acceptable to us or for our users’. We used WhatsApp as an example for verifying phone numbers and since they are the leader in right now in texting messaging, we felt they had a reliable way of doing this.
And to Question 2: “Why do you verify it by sending a text message?” This insures that the phone number being verified is actually the right number. So why we need the phone number in the first place to insure that pictures only go to the right person, and why we verify it by text messages is to make sure that the number is actually the right number. Two parts, we verify the number to insure that pictures only go to you, and we use text messages since this is the only reliable way to verify a phone number.
Here’s more info from Max, our lead developer:
“The OS doesn’t provide any way to verify your phone number. In the best case, the app can read a user’s phone number from the SIM card but this number can be changed on the card by the user. Also, many mobile operators simply don’t store a user’s number on the card; in this case the app can’t get anything. So the only way is to ask the user to enter their phone number. But the user can type any number. Here we come back to the point that we want our users to be sure that they send their pictures to a real person they know, not somebody else.
At the moment the only secure way is to make sure that the phone number typed by the user belongs to the SIM card is to send a SMS to this number or make a call (sending an email won’t work as it can be received anywhere, not only on the phone). Please let us know if you know any better way. This is what WhatsApp does; we do it exactly the same.”
So I hope that this answers your questions and alleviates any concerns you may have had about InstaSnap.
Our number one priority is to insure that your data and pictures are secure and safe. We currently encrypt all photos that are sent so that in the unlikely event that they go to anyone they’re not intended to, they can’t be seen. Only the person you send them to has the encryption ‘key’ and can view them. And they don’t stay on our servers once they receiver has viewed them on his device.
Furthermore, the connection from the app to our servers will be encrypted in the next beta release. We’re just making sure it’s as fast and reliable as our non-encrypted connection is.