WASHINGTON — Top senators are questioning whether the fitness app Strava is doing enough to protect customers’ privacy after it accidentally revealed the place of military bases and moves in war zones worldwide, potentially putting troops — and domestic security — in danger.
Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Christopher Coons, D-Del., sent a letter to Strava on Wednesday about privacy concerns over revealing where soldiers exercise with the app or through Fitbits, Garmins or other devices that relay their locations into Strava.
“This advice could jeopardize users’ private safety in various manners, such as revealing an individual’s daily tasks, frequented locations, and sensitive health information,” the letter in the leading members of the Senate subcommittee on privacy, engineering and the law said. “of making this information widely available The implications may influence national security by revealing the whereabouts of locations. ”
Exercise information was assembled by strava and aggregated it anonymously into an interactive & ldquo; international heat map & rdquo; that showed where people have been exercising for the last couple of decades. The map became available in November and publicized in January.
Since bases frequently are in distant places, the map had the unintended result of highlighting troops’ locations. The senators questioned the company & rsquo, while Strava stated it would take steps to simplify privacy settings;s attempts.
“Strava has failed to demonstrate that it takes these issues seriously,” Flake and Coons said in their correspondence. “Strava’s fitness app makes it rather difficult to determine of unwanted data-sharing. … It seems that many customers are confused by Strava’s opt-out provisions or just unaware of exactly what information has been monitored. ”
In a statement Jan. 29, Strava CEO James Quarles stated the business would simplify privacy configurations on equipment initially designed for athletes to share data rather than distribute intellect to “individuals with bad intent. ”
“In constructing it, we honored activity and profile privacy choices, including the ability to select out of heat maps entirely,” Quarles stated. “However, we heard over the weekend which Strava members in the military, humanitarian workers and others living abroad may have shared their place in areas with no other action density and, in doing so, inadvertently increased awareness of sensitive places. ”
The Department of Defense said that it reviewed its policies on wearable devices and smartphones.
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