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French users sue Muslim prayer app over alleged US army links

French users sue Muslim prayer app over alleged US army links

Screengrab of the Muslim Pro app website.

PARIS: French users of a Muslim prayer app accused of selling data that ended up with the US army are suing the company, their lawyers said on Monday (Nov 23).

Former subscribers to the Muslim Pro app, which claims to have 95 million users around the world, have filed the complaint after media reports accused the group of having shared its data with companies connected to the US army.

The lawsuit, revealed by France's RTL radio, accuses the company of data protection offences, abuse of trust, endangering other people's lives and conspiracy to commit murder.

The case is due to be filed on Tuesday.

It follows a report by the Vice media group last week about how the US army bought up users' geolocation data from a string of apps around the world.

They include the Muslim Pro app, which has a geolocation option that enables users to determine the hour of prayer and the direction of Mecca.

The company sold this data to a company called X-Mode, which sold it on to sub-contractors and by extension, the army, said Vice.

US Special Forces could then use the data on overseas missions, the report said, speculating that they could be used for the extra-judicial executions of terror suspects by means of drone strikes.

A day after the report came out, Muslim Pro said it was ending all sharing of its data with other companies.

The company, which was founded by a French national who is based in Singapore, also said it has launched an internal investigation.

In a statement to CNA, the company said it apologises to its users "for the distress caused".

"To further clear all doubts and get to the bottom of the issue, Muslim Pro today announces the formal launch of a full investigation into the relevant parties involved, with the support of our lawyers, to get proper answers to the questions Muslim Pro and our users might still have. 

"We will take any necessary action if we discover that our trust and that of our users have been abused."

The company also added that it has never provided "any third party with non-anonymous data".

Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) said last Thursday it was investigating the allegations and had requested more information from app developer Bitsmedia, TODAY reported quoting a spokesperson.

READ: Stiffer penalties for data breaches, more opportunities for legitimate uses of data as Parliament passes changes to PDPA

“Organisations with mobile applications available to Singapore users must comply with the data protection requirements of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA),” the spokesperson said.

“We remind users to also be mindful of the type of permissions and personal data that they provide and how it may be used. If in doubt, users should not download or use any application.”

Source: AFP/jt


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