Most notably, Muslim Pro … Islamic applications provide the US military with the movements of their users :
Technology site Motherboard-VICE revealed that the US military is purchasing accurate movement data for people around the world, harvested from seemingly innocuous apps.
The most popular application among the analyzed “Motherboard” group, related to this type of data sale is the Muslim prayer and Quran application that has been downloaded more than 98 million times worldwide.
Other apps include the Islamic dating app, the popular Craigslist app, a storm tracking app, and the ‘level’ app that can be used to help, for example, install shelves in the bedroom.
Motherboard revealed through public records, interviews with developers, and technical analysis of two separate, parallel sources of data that the US military uses or uses to obtain location data.
The first source is a product of a company called Babel Street, called Locate X, and is used by a branch of the military tasked with counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and special reconnaissance to assist foreign Special Forces operations.
The second source is through a company called X-Mode, which obtains location data directly from the applications, then sells that data to contractors, and then to the military.
The news highlights the non-transparent “location data” market and the fact that the US military, which has misused other location data to target drone strikes, is buying access to sensitive data.
Many of the app users involved in the data supply chain are Muslims, which is noteworthy given that the United States has waged a decades-long war against terrorist groups in the Middle East, killing hundreds of thousands of Muslim civilians during their existence.
Motherboard cannot know for any specific operations in which the US military has used this type of application-based location data, whether it is military operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
Applications that send data to X-Mode include the Muslim Pro application, an application that reminds users of the prayer time and the direction of the qiblah in relation to the user’s location.
Muslim Pro is an application that sends its users’ locations to X-Mode (networking sites)
The app has been downloaded more than 50 million times on Android, according to the Google Play store, and more than 98 million times in total across other platforms including iOS, according to Muslim Pro website.
Another app that sent data to X-Mode was the Muslim Mingle, a dating app that had been downloaded more than 100,000 times.
US law enforcement agencies’ purchase of such information raises questions about authorities buying their way into location data that would normally require permission to access it.
Tim Hawkins, a spokesman for US Special Operations Command, confirmed the purchase of “Lockat X” programs. “Our access to the program is being used to support the requirements of Special Operations Forces overseas missions. We strictly adhere to the procedures and policies in place to protect the privacy, civil liberties, and constitutional and legal rights of American citizens.”
According to a March technology publication protocol, US law enforcement agencies such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were using Lookat X.
Motherboard obtained an internal confidential service document confirming the agency’s use of the technology, and some government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), purchased access to location data from another vendor called Venntel.
A spokesman for the US Special Operations Command confirmed the agency’s purchase of information from “European” Lookat X.
Some companies obtain app location data through bidding, which is information gathered from bidding in real time, which occurs when advertisers pay to insert their ads in people’s browsing sessions. Companies also often obtain data from software development kits (SDKs).
In a recent interview with CNN, Joshua Anton, CEO of X-MODE, said that the company tracks 25 million devices in the United States every month, and 40 million elsewhere, including in the European Union and America. Latin and the Asia-Pacific region. X-Mode also previously told Motherboard that its SDKs are in nearly 400 applications.
Motherboard used a network analysis program to monitor the Android and iOS versions of the Muslim Pro app, which sends accurate location data to the X-MODE database multiple times.
IOS researcher Will Stravach said he also saw the iOS version of the Muslim Pro app sending location data to X-Mode.
The data transfer included the name of the wifi network the phone is currently connected to, the timestamp, and information about the phone such as its model, according to Motherboard’s tests.
In addition to the prayer app, Motherboard also installed the Muslim Angel Dating app on the Android phone, and it was noticed that the app sends accurate coordinates of the phone’s current geographic location and Wi-Fi network name to X-Mode several times.
Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (European)
America’s Muslims are protesting
Tweeters have interacted with what was traded Press reports about the use of Muslim Pro data for espionage purposes by the US military.
The application users expressed their anger and condemnation under the hashtag “Delete Muslim Pro” – (#DeleteMuslimPro), demanding that the application be deleted.
For its part, CAIR requested the opening of an urgent investigation by Congress into the government’s use of Islamic applications to obtain personal data for members of Muslim communities.
“We call on Congress to conduct a thorough public investigation into the government’s use of personal data to target the Muslim community here and abroad,” said Nihad Awad, the council’s executive director.
“Including whether this data has been used to illegally spy on the targeted Muslim Americans,” Awad added, “We also encourage Muslims to stop using these applications until companies stop using the data completely.”
The tweeters demanded an explanatory statement from the app’s owners about the use of their personal data, while some suggested several alternatives from other Islamic apps that can be used safely, stressing that all they wanted was to know the times of prayer.
Muslim Pro breaks up with X-Mode
In a later development, the Middle East Eye website quoted Muslim Pro application officials as saying that they had decided to cut ties with the locator company after it sold user data to a branch of its mission to combat terrorism and insurgency in the US military.
Zaria Jabbari, an official at the Muslim Pro website, said that the Motherboard report is “not accurate and not correct,” but she explained that the application severed its ties with X-Mode, confirming that millions of Muslims respect the application that they rely on to know prayer times and the direction of the Qibla daily.
“We have decided to directly cut our relationship with our data partners, including X-Mode, which we have been dealing with for 4 weeks. We will continue to take all necessary measures and ensure that our users practice their connections with peace of mind, which remains the goal of Muslim Pro since its inception,” she added.
MuslimPro did not provide an explanation of what it described as “inaccurate and incorrect” information for the Motherboard report, and it did not respond to questions about whether it was aware of X-Mode selling data on users’ websites to contractors with the US military and why the data was sold in the first place.
Jabbari said that Muslim Pro announced an internal investigation to verify the situation and review “data-related policies, and to ensure that user data is handled according to the necessary requirements.”
Source: Al Jazeera + Sanad Service + websites