Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Contact Tracing App Used by North and South Dakota Shares Location Data With Foursquare and Google

Steven Melendez, Fast Company:

The app, called Care19, and produced by a company called ProudCrowd that also makes a location-based social networking app for North Dakota State sports fans, generates a random ID number for each person who uses it. […]

According to the app’s privacy policy, “location data is private to you and is stored securely on ProudCrowd, LLC servers” and won’t be shared with third parties “unless you consent or ProudCrowd is compelled under federal regulations.”

But according to the Jumbo report, the app sends the random ID number, along with a phone ID used for advertising purposes and apparent latitudes and longitudes of places visited by the user, to Foursquare, a leading location-data provider. The app also sends the random ID to servers run by Bugfender, a Barcelona-based service used by app makers to track and diagnose software malfunctions, according to Jumbo, which monitored internet traffic generated by the app. It’s accompanied by the phone’s name, which often includes the device owner’s first name, according to the report. The phone’s advertising ID is also sent to Google servers that appear to be affiliated with Google’s Firebase service, Jumbo found.

Hard to imagine why Apple and Google designed an API specifically for contact tracing with stricter privacy provisions instead of simply allowing indiscriminate location data collection like that recent Washington Post story suggested they ought to do.