Runkeeper is a popular activity tracking app that helps its users set goals and track training; but FOX19 NOW's tech expert Dave Hatter says users should be concerned after a Norwegian consumer company found the app is tracking users even when they’re not using the app.
Runkeeper has been in business since 2008, the Boston based business was recently purchased by Asics. The nature of Runkeeper requires it to collect and submit information such as location and elevation when it's in use but the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) has filed a complaint about the app, which alleges it collects and transmits data about its users all the time, not just when the app is in use tracking activities.
The NCC audit of 20 popular apps to gauge their compliance with Norwegian data privacy and consumer rights laws. The NCC discovered this behavior in the Android version and so far has not indicated if the iOS exhibits the same behavior.
Hatter says MIT and others have done studies which show that with as little as 4 pieces of information, you can uniquely identify someone in most cases.
Runkeeper CEO Jason Jacobs told Fortune, “We are in the process of reviewing the issues raised in the complaint, and we will cooperate with the Norwegian if it has any questions arising out of the complaint.”
Hatter adds, it's important to understand that most any app could exhibit this type of behavior, if you're NOT paying with money, you're paying with data, companies aren't investing tons of money to build apps and the websites that support them for nothing.
To protect yourself Hatter suggests checking reviews on the web store, look for editorial reviews and watch for stories about the apps your use for potential privacy violations then delete any apps that violate privacy standards.