The US military and few more companies are alleged to be purchasing granular location data from a bunch of apps, which have millions of downloads. Reported by Vice, apps like Muslim Pro, Accupedo Pedometer, Muslim Mingle and few more are selling location data of its users to data aggregators like X-Mode, which have US military as one of their clients.
Apps Selling Users Location Data for Money
As Vice media reported, few apps are allegedly selling their users’ location data to third-party platforms, which resell these to their own clients for money. Apps in question are Muslim Pro, Muslim Mingle, Accupedo Pedometer, Screen Stream Mirroring and Global Storms.
One from these, Muslim Pro is so popular with over 50 million downloads from Google’s Playstore alone. While the app reasoned for collecting their users’ granular location data for showing directions to Mecca (one of its functionality), it was reported to have sold that to X-Mode, a data aggregator who has US military as one of its clients.
Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission has also confirmed investigating the issue now, which may penalise the company behind it, Bitsmedia with either SG$1 million or 10% of its annual revenue, whichever is higher if proved guilty. Another high profile data broker alongside X-Mode is the Locate X, which buys these data from apps in exchange of money.
Regarding this allegation, Tim Hawkins, a U.S. Special Operations Command spokesperson, told Vice in a statement, “Our access to the software is used to support Special Operations Forces mission requirements overseas. We strictly adhere to established procedures and policies for protecting the privacy, civil liberties, constitutional and legal rights of American citizens.”
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