The Salaat First application, which helps the world’s Muslims to see or find prayer times, reportedly sells user location data to technology companies linked to US security agencies. This is the second app in the last two months to come under fire for leaking user data to third parties.
Reporting from TRT World, a Vice News report on Monday showed that a location data set showing the movements of Salaat First users was sold to Predicio. This is a French company reportedly associated with US contractors linked to US Immigration and Customs, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The news of Salaat First comes just two months after news that the US military was collecting sensitive location data through another prayer and Quran app, Muslim Pro, along with several others. The US military is also rumored to have access to apps such as Mingle, the Muslim dating app and the Craigslist app.
“One of the two parallel data streams that the US military uses relies on a company called Babel Street, which created a product called Locate X US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the military branch tasked with counter terrorism, counter-terrorism and special forces. reconnaissance, “Vice wrote a November 2020 report.” A company called X-Mode, which obtains location data directly from the app, provides another stream of information. “
Salaat First has been downloaded at least more than 10 million times on Android devices. This app is also available on iOS, but only the Android version sends data to Predicio. The app also violates Google Play Store policy by not asking users for permission to share location data with Predicio, even though the policy archived on their website mentions it, according to Motherboard.
Following the disclosure of this data breach, Apple and Google removed the Tracker X-Mode from the App Store, while Muslim Pro announced that they had stopped sharing location data. Meanwhile, the developer Salaat First said that data collection can only be done if the user has downloaded the application in the UK, Germany, France or Italy, according to their agreement with Predicio in March 2020.
Predicio has previously claimed on the company’s website that it does not use business intelligence data to identify ethnic, religious or political groups for human tracking or identification of people of any kind. However, Vice’s report said that by saying it does not support use cases to identify religious groups, it does not mention that Predicio ‘does not collect granular location data from apps that are explicitly focused on Muslims’.