Singapore-based Muslim Pro app developer denies selling user data to US military

The data reportedly bought included location information as well as the name of the Wi-Fi network that a user was connected to.
The data reportedly bought included location information as well as the name of the Wi-Fi network that a user was connected to.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM PLAY.GOOGLE.COM

SINGAPORE - The Singapore-based developer of Islamic smartphone application Muslim Pro has denied allegations that it is selling the personal data of its users to the United States military.

App developer Bitsmedia told The Straits Times on Tuesday (Nov 17) that it will be immediately terminating its relationships with its data partners, without specifying who they are.

According to a Vice Media report published on Monday, the US military is buying private information gathered from apps around the world, including Muslim Pro, which has over 98 million downloads worldwide and features services like an online Quran library as well as a daily prayer timing schedule.

"This is incorrect and untrue. The protection and respect of the privacy of our users is Muslim Pro's utmost priority," said Miss Zahariah Jupary, Muslim Pro's head of community.

"As one of the most trusted Muslim apps over the last 10 years, we adhere to the most stringent privacy standards and data protection regulations, and never share any personal identifiable information."

She added that the app developer has launched an internal investigation and is reviewing its data governance policy to confirm that all user data was handled properly.

Vice had reported that the US military bought Muslim Pro's data through a third-party data broker called X-Mode. Data brokers collect data or buy it from other companies.

The data reportedly bought included location information as well as the name of the Wi-Fi network that a user was connected to, a timestamp, and information about the phone the apps is installed on such as its model.

Miss Zahariah said that Muslim Pro had started working together with X-Mode four weeks ago, but has since terminated any cooperation with the company and other "data partners".

She did not disclose what exactly X-Mode was working with Bitsmedia on.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said, in response to ST queries, that it does not have oversight over apps like Muslim Pro and does not provide any support for them.

"We encourage the Muslim community to exercise care when using such apps," said a Muis spokesman, adding that this includes being careful about the personal identifiable information they reveal, the specific terms and conditions that come with using the apps, and the content that such apps provide.

He said that Muis has its own supported app Muslim SG, which provides information for local Muslims like prayer times, halal certified food outlets and mosque locations.