Fitness app Polar revealing military fitness regimes in Baghdad and Guantanamo Bay

Running data from the popular Polar Flow app could show sensitive military details

The number of fitness trackers on the market, from Strava and Runkeeper to many others, suggests that the answer is no. But it's still not a great look for the Finnish company - especially when you consider the data on show was much more revealing than Strava's location debacle - and we imagine it will now take steps to shore up any lingering issues regarding privacy.

Polar has temporarily suspended a feature on its Flow platform, after it was revealed the app's privacy settings allowed for access to potentially sensitive information of some of its users.

Bellingcat's investigation identified people working at the FBI, the NSA, Americans in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Russian soldiers in Crimea, troops on the North Korean border, individuals serving on submarines, and military personnel working in missile defense and cyber security to name but a few.

We can find Western military personnel in Afghanistan through the Polar site.

An investigation by a group of Dutch journalists found that the app Polar Flow made joggers' runs public on an online map accessible for all users.

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The news comes in the wake of revelations separate fitness tracking data company Strava published a heat map visualisation of its users' athletic activity a year ago which revealed secret army base locations. "As people tend to turn their fitness trackers on/off when leaving or entering their homes, they unwittingly mark their houses on the map", Bellingcat researcher Foeke Postma explained. It said in a statement that it has shut access to the Explore API while it analyzes "the best options that will allow Polar customers to continue using the Explore feature while taking additional measures to remind customers to avoid publicly sharing Global Positioning System files of sensitive locations". "We also learned the names and addresses of personnel at nuclear storage facilities, maximum security prisons, military airports where nuclear weapons are stored, and drone bases", the De Correspondent reporters noted.

Users of the Flow app were located at several military bases, including Erbil in northern Iraq, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Gao in Mali.

While noting that users have always had the option of making their profiles private, Polar responded to the report by shutting Explore.

For users signed up to this service, Explore has tracked every activity since 2014 and, considering this wealth of data, it was apparently relatively easy to determine details like a user's home address and the perimeter of a military base that doubles as a jogging route. On Friday, the company issued a statement in which it said that it did not leak users' private information and that there had been no data breach affecting private data. It also connects with the company's own heart-rate monitor, and results can be compared with others' via the company's Polar Flow social platform.

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