Fitness apps can put humanitarian and military workers, others at risk

Using popular fitness apps that track users’ locations on an online map can put humanitarian workers, military workers, and others at risk, Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Signal Program on Human Security and Technology, said in a January 29, 2018 Washington Post article.

The story was related to reports that a “heat map” posted online by the popular fitness-tracking company Strava could be used to track the location and reveal the identities of military personnel and others working in war zones or other sensitive locations. The U.S. military is reviewing its guidelines for use of wireless devices in military facilities, the article stated.

Public access to the data presents “a potential catastrophe,” said Raymond, who researches the use of data technology for humanitarian workers. Recently, Raymond and his colleagues used Strava to identify names and daily routines of foreigners working for aid agencies and the UN in Somalia.

In a January 29, 2018 New York Times article, the Strava manufacturer urged users to get familiar with privacy settings that they said can exclude users from the publically available online map.

Read the Washington Post article: U.S. military reviewing its rules after fitness trackers exposed sensitive data