The popular fitness app Runkeeper is in some hot water after receiving a formal complaint from the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) after it was determined that the app tracks its users at all times, and sends that data to advertisers. As a fitness app, there is a certain amount of tracking that will need to be done in order to effectively do its job, but it seems that Runkeeper went above and beyond any necessary tracking, and is thereby facing the NCC’s inquiry. The initial report says that Runkeeper has broken European data protection law.
The council has determined that Runkeeper tracks its users and sends that information to a third party in the United States at all times, even when the app is not in use. NCC Digital Policy Director Finn Myrstrad spoke with Ars Technica and said the following:
We checked the apps technically, to see the data flows and to see if the apps actually do what they say they do.
Everyone understands that Runkeeper tracks users while they exercise, but to continue after the training has ended is not okay. Not only is it a breach of privacy laws, we are also convinced that users do not want to be tracked in this way, or for information to be shared with third party advertisers.
A fitness tracker certainly wouldn’t be doing its job if it weren’t tracking you at least some of the time. However, that time should begin when you open the app and begin to work out and stop once you’ve completed your exercise and close the app. Seems pretty straightforward. If found guilty during this investigation, the NCC doesn’t have a ton of options for punishment since Runkeeper’s parent company, FitnessKeeper, does not have any presence in Europe. If nothing else, the complaint and its investigation should draw some attention to the shady practices that some apps seem to keep.
Do you use Runkeeper? Are you worried about it tracking you at all times? Tell us what you think in the comment section below, or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.Source: Ars Technica