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WhiteHatJr Data Leak Controversy: Unfolded
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WhiteHatJr has been the center of many controversies to date. From the false claim of advertisements to the challenge of teachers versus parents who'd fail to prove their point, WhiteHatJr has been carrying the level of burden of controversies. The recent discussion now involves a massive data leak that put the information of students, teachers, and much more in crisis for WhiteHatJr. With the data leak, it is quite ironic that it happened to a company that "would" basically know about detecting such frauds. The company is currently dealing with a bug that might have caused it, and details aren't expressed much by the ed-tech company.

Not too long ago, a live online coding platform for children, White Hat Jr., scripted a dream escape for itself. Byju’s, the poster boy of edtech startups in India, acquired White Hat Jr. in a $300 million all-cash transaction. (1) During the pandemic, both in terms of users and financing, the edtech room in India hit a roadblock, as Vedantu, another online live tutoring site, raised a massive 100 million funding as the industry began to realize that online learning edtech startups now have their demonetization moment in the form of a global pandemic also considered ahead of their time.

In a day and age where the focus must be put on the joy of learning, having kids be kids, and not being crowded prematurely with worldly desires to earn money, we are shown that parents already dream of their kid to get funding for an app that he may create because of White Hat Jr. We are putting both parents and children in a competition to see who can become a coder with the highest pay package, instead of inspiring them to make the world a better place by seeking solutions that solve problems, enjoying the learning process, just as you would want a sport.

The Data Leak Controversy

Due to its servers’ various vulnerabilities before mid-November, WhiteHat Jr. reportedly exposed personal data from over 2.8 lakh students and teachers. They patched the bugs that were present on their servers before mid-November, the platform said. The platform has confirmed that after being told by a security researcher, they corrected their vulnerabilities. Whether the affected data was compromised before the loopholes were patched is not clear. The Mumbai-based coding platform also had another problem last month, in which it was allegedly leaking personal data and transaction information from students. (3)

For over a month, the security researcher who discovered the vulnerabilities inside WhiteHat Jr made numerous disclosures to the company. Due to a misconfigured backend server responsible for disclosing data like student names, age, gender, profile pictures, user IDs, parent name, and progress report, the issues were present. In addition to the personally identifiable information (PII) of minors, the investigator claimed that the servers had disclosed information about instructors, student parents, company compensation records, internal company documents, and hundreds of documented videos of the classes being taught. (4)

Separately, via its API, the company was also found to have leaked personal data where one user could access another’s data, including transaction information. The problem was posted on LinkedIn by Santosh Patidar, the creator of a queue management app, and the bug was later updated.

 

Pradeep Poonia vs. WhiteHatJr

More recently, after Pradeep Poonia made disparaging remarks about the teachers on the forum and speculated on their educational or other professional histories, the organization came down heavily on Poonia. He called them “housewives,” which sparked a strong reaction from the company that slapped Poonia with Rs 20 crore’s defamation suit. The case was heard on Monday by a single magistrate, Justice Mukta Gupta, and the Delhi High Court drew heavily on Poonia over its remarks. The judge issued an ad-interim injunction to WhiteHat Jr. and founder Karan Bajaj against Pradeep Poonia, according to a LiveLaw article, prohibiting him from speaking on the number or standard of WhiteHat Jr. teachers. The court said that Poonia should limit himself to a healthy debate about the essence of the organization’s work, adding that it was malicious and defamatory to disparage allegations against their teachers without having adequate details. (5)

On 23 November, the Delhi High Court issued an ad-interim injunction to Byju’s coding website, WhiteHat Jr., and its founder, Karan Bajaj, who filed a defamation lawsuit against Pradeep Poonia, a YouTuber, who was a critic of the company for its alleged malpractices and misleading advertising. The court ordered Poonia to publish WhiteHat Jr and its employees’ correspondence and chats, which Poonia allegedly gained by hacking the business’s internal communication on the Slack messaging platform. Until the next court hearing on 6 January 2021, Poonia was restricted to make whatever details he had on Whitehat Jr public.

Poonia operates the WhiteHat Sr YouTube channel, which promises to deliver for free a curriculum similar to WhaiteHat Jr. Bajaj and his company alleged in the case that Poonia violated their trademark, copyright, and privacy infringement. The court also advised him over charges that he had doxed the educators. He was guided to take down detailed tweets on these subjects and claims that a pyramid scheme was WhiteHat, and so on. He has also been prohibited from hacking or unauthorized access to internal communications on his YouTube channel between company employees. It would now be essential to take down those videos.

 

Advertisements that stirred a controversy

(6) One of the most aggressive marketing strategies has been managed by WhiteHat Jr in recent memory. In one ad, parents discover that investors battle outside their home to access their boy, who has created an invaluable app after taking their coding classes. Another ad speaks of a 13-year-old who has earned Rs’ salary thanks to his coding skills. 20 crore at Google. Other advertisements, especially on social media, use photos of Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook to promote their goods, which seems like an unlawful use of these personalities’ reputation to pitch the products of WhiteHat Jr. 

The videos of Poonia take on different arguments that WhiteHat Jr has made. For example, advertises a specific child named ‘Wolf Gupta’ who got a job at Google that pays in crores after learning to code with the company. In his video, Poonia points out that the age of Wolf Gupta continues to shift through ads, from nine to fourteen, as does his salary package, from Rs. 1.2 crore to Rs. 20 crore to Rs150 crore. Poonia shares screen recordings of WHJ’s app reviews on the Google Play Store in another video to illustrate how many 5-star reviews have very similar text and thus appear fake.

The many controversies that surround d WhiteHatJr show the instability of the company at the moment. The data leak could be one of the immense misfortunes for WhiteHatJr with the fear of now losing their students and teachers. WhiteHatJr history has been delved into a whirlpool of controversies, and its present situation would be although to ponder upon.

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My passion is Reading and writing. Basically, an optimistic introvert. Always striving to be better. Writing as a passion leads me to become stronger and focused.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article have been curated for our audience and does not warrant a 100% accuracy. All the information mentioned in the article is subject to change according to the changing viewpoints. Feel free to reach us at [email protected] for any change or copyright issues.

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Abraham George
Abraham George
My passion is Reading and writing. Basically, an optimistic introvert. Always striving to be better. Writing as a passion leads me to become stronger and focused.

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