Polar Exposed Locations of Spies and Military Personnel…. Oops

Polar is a company that makes fitness gear like fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and the like. They also make an app that allows you to compile the data from their gear called Polar Flow. But Polar Flow has one extra feature” that is likely to make a lot of people nervous right now, the location data of people such as spies and military personnel was accidentally exposed to the planet. Here’s the details:

For most users who set their activity tracking records to public, posting their workouts on Polar’s so-called Explore map is a feature and not a privacy issue. But even with profiles set to private, a user’s fitness activity can reveal where a person lives.

An exposed location of anyone working at a government or military installation can quickly become a national security risk.

Well, that’s an oops moment. This is pretty similar to what happened to Strava not too long ago. And it’s not just GPS info. It’s info that could also allow someone to identify you. Which of course isn’t good. After the company was told about this, the company took the relevant functionality off line. Then they put out this statement…. Which was kind of strange to me when I first read it:

In a statement sent by Polar chief strategy officer Marco Suvilaakso, the company said it “recently learned that public location data shared by customers via the Explore feature in Flow could provide insight into potentially sensitive locations.”

The company denied a leak or a breach of its systems.

“Currently the vast majority of Polar customers maintain the default private profiles and private sessions data settings, and are not affected in any way by this case,” said the statement. “While the decision to opt-in and share training sessions and GPS location data is the choice and responsibility of the customer, we are aware that potentially sensitive locations are appearing in public data, and have made the decision to temporarily suspend the Explore API.”

Well, if this isn’t a leak of some sort, I don’t know what qualifies. Thus this is a strange response from the company.

This is the bottom line that you have to keep in mind when you use these sorts of apps. They collect a ton of data on you. Thus you have to be 100% comfortable with the fact that this data could get exposed at some point and someone could learn a lot about you.

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