According to Vice Motherboard, the US military has purchased the location data of millions of Muslims from around the world – including Malaysians who use the prayer app, Muslim Pro.
With about 98 million downloads globally, the app is a popular one amongst Malaysian Muslims as it reminds users about daily prayers and also provides readings from the Quran.
It is revealed that the military is utilizing the data for “counterterrorism” purposes and they have used two separate methods to obtain the location data of users.
The first involved a product called Locate X. US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a branch of the military tasked with counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and special reconnaissance, bought access to Locate X to assist on overseas special forces operations.
The second method involved a company called X-Mode, which obtains location data directly from apps then sells that data to contractors, and by extension, to the US military. The report found that Muslim Pro was also sending user data to X-Mode.
Although Muslim Pro isn’t the only Muslim-oriented app that has sent data to X-Mode, it is the biggest. Another one of the apps that has been targeted is Muslim Mingle, a dating app that has been downloaded over 100,000 times.
For now, Minnesota House Representative Ilhan Omar criticized both the military and the companies behind the apps in a brief tweet on Monday. Take a look:
The military industrial complex and the surveillance state have always had a cozy relationship with tech. Buying bulk data in order to profile Muslims is par for the course for them – and is absolutely sickening. It should be illegal! https://t.co/kNqQXP9lCF
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 16, 2020
Let’s see what some Malaysians had to say:
Alternatively, use own local brand – IMAN app for prayer times. Minimalist, compact and most importantly no ads. Been keeping myself distant from Muslim Pro because of advertisements and few concerns on the developer behind the app. #sapotlokal #IMANapp https://t.co/2JTHZoRJgQ pic.twitter.com/Sek5gAOFdA
— Muhamad Firdaus Ali (@mfafirdausali) November 17, 2020
muslim pro = IMPOSTER
— skuchiman (@hannahwahiid) November 17, 2020
Ironi di sini ialah A.S haramkan TikTok dan WeChat kerana “berkongsi data dengan China” sedangkan tentera mereka sendiri beli data pengguna dari Third Party untuk tujuan yang sama. They KNOW coz they are doing it too https://t.co/FAZgOx7Vc5
— Effi Saharudin 🇲🇾🤡 (@1Obefiend) November 17, 2020
me: *clicks muslim pro and realises i’m, yet again, late for solat
fbi agent watching through muslim pro: pic.twitter.com/8L5ESty8Ee
— hun.nun.knee. (@sitinurhannany) November 17, 2020
US military to Muslim Pro users: pic.twitter.com/b2jKTGwJ6A
— Shaz Johar (@malayrhapsody) November 17, 2020