According to a Vice Media report published on Monday (Nov 17), the US military is buying private information gathered from apps around the world.
One of the apps it has allegedly bought information from is Muslim Pro, an app downloaded by over 98 million Islam believers worldwide.
The app features services like an online Quran library as well as a daily prayer timing schedule.
The report states that one of the app’s data buyers is from the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), an association believed to be closely connected to issues relating to anti-violence, anti-counterfeiting, and various secret activities across the globe.
The Vice report added that the US military bought Muslim Pro’s user data via a third-party data broker called X-Mode.
The data reportedly includes location information, the name of the Wi-Fi network a user is connected to, a timestamp, and information about the phone the app is installed on, such as its model.
Location-data firms and their partners insist that people’s movements are anonymised and not directly tied to their identities, but other studies have shown that it is easy to de-anonymise the data.
Who Is Muslim Pro?
Muslim Pro is owned by Singapore-based developer Bitsmedia, with CEO Erwan Macé at the helm.
According to The Straits Times, the company has denied allegations that it is selling the personal data of its users to the United States military.
Zahariah Jupary, Muslim Pro’s head of community, told The Straits Times that the app “adheres to the most stringent privacy standards and data protection regulations, and never shares any personal identifiable information.”
To add on, she said that the app developer has launched an internal investigation and is reviewing its data governance policy.
They have also since terminated any partnerships with X-Mode and other data partners. However, it was not revealed what Bitsmedia was working together with X-Mode on.
Exercise Caution When Using Apps
Often, apps ask to access personal information such as location data when you are using them. And some of the information these apps are collecting are necessary for them to work properly.
With that said, we need to be more careful about our data that we willingly hand over to companies.
As digital natives, we are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology, and are giving away more personal data than ever despite growing risks and consequences.
As users, we need to be aware of what personal data we are sharing with the apps, the terms and conditions that come with using the apps, and the content that such apps provide.
Featured Image Credit: 5 Pillars