A contact-tracing app called Care19 was caught sharing its location data along with Foursquare. This report raises privacy concerns among people. 


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How Did They Figure it Out?

Privacy-focused app Jumbo was able to publish its findings to highlight the risks involved with contact-tracing apps. When there is a software that allows you to tag your location, or interaction with other people, as well as share data regarding said interaction, you will run the risk of that data ending up in the wrong hands.

For the app Care19, this also applies, as the app has a privacy policy that seems like it explicitly prohibits what Jumbo has warned everyone about. Here is a short sample from the policy:

"This location data is private to you and is stored securely on ProudCrowd, LLC servers, It will not be shared with anyone including government entities or third parties, unless you consent or ProudCrowd is compelled under federal regulations."

If you don't know this already, Foursquare is a third-party app, so why does it have the locations of all Care19 users?

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The Companies Have Something to Say

Jumbo CEO Pierre Valade told media site Mashable on Twitter that "[Contact-tracing apps] do present unique privacy concerns ... Absolutely, we need to be vigilant."

The developer of Care19, Tim Brookins, has also added on his remarks regarding the issue since he is responsible for creating the popular app itself. He went on ahead and emailed the Washington Post and wrote, "The Care19 application user interface clearly calls out the usage of Foursquare on our 'Nearby Places' screen, per the terms of our Foursquare agreement, we will be working with our state partners to be more explicit in our privacy policy."

The statement given by Brookins contradicts the app's privacy statement mentioned earlier in the article, to be more specific, sharing users' location data with a third party directly conflicts with the privacy statement and confidentiality clause.

Foursquare also reached out to the Washington Post regarding the colossal screw up that even though they do receive location data from Care19, they don't memorize nor monetize it. Regardless of what's been happening, this seems to be a major issue that should be addressed by Care19 and should fix their privacy laws since they have already violated their users' trust regarding the offense.

Jumbo CEO Pierre Valade said, "We hope that these findings will help the health agencies that are currently working on similar apps to make sure privacy is respected,"

Given the very real threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the whole world is now looking to our government officials, and in turn, they look to inventors and developers to help them in their fight. With fingers crossed, developers should be able to properly pass through proper channels when it comes to the privacy of the individuals to take care of their users.

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