FBI fitness app suspected of being a spy

Do I have what it takes to be an FBI agent? To answer this question, the FBI recently released a fitness app that allows users to “replay” the US federal agency’s official recruitment test at home. Now it turns out: The FBI covertly obtains extensive monitoring rights in the data protection regulations and reserves the right to forward the data for criminal prosecution.

FBI Fitness App: Tracking with GPS and accelerometer

The FBI app combines an information section on the individual requirements with an interactive section that makes the entire entrance exam – a sprint and an endurance run, pull-ups and push-ups – an interactive experience for the user. If desired, the training performance can be tracked directly by the app, which requests access to the GPS module and the acceleration sensor of the smartphone.

Since the fitness app was released in the summer, the FBI has been beating the drums on its social channels. Apparently with success: According to the US federal agency, more than 28,000 downloads were recorded by mid-September, and videos of users showing their results can be found on YouTube. But even those who did not point a camera at themselves during the fitness test must expect their activities to be observed. And directly through the FBI.

“All activities are monitored and recorded”

The television network CNBC has now taken a closer look at the privacy policy of the FBI app . App downloaders are initially only shown a short “summary” for confirmation (the app cannot be used without confirmation). The short text emphasizes that the FBI does not collect any data when using the app.

However, the full privacy policy – ​​which, according to the FBI, also applies to the app and to which reference is also made in the app – has a passage according to which “all user activities are monitored and recorded” (“individuals using this computer system are subject to having all of their activities monitored and recorded”). And further: “If the monitoring gives indications of criminal activities, the collected data can be passed on to the responsible authorities”.

Transparent app user or just vaguely formulated?

CNBC was also surprised that the app apparently accesses the smartphone’s GPS and acceleration module, but the FBI program is not displayed in the smartphone’s corresponding authorization lists. The federal authority explained to the television station that it did not see any of this personalized location and device data. You only get the same anonymous usage data from Apple and Google as all other app publishers.

Does the FBI’s fitness app monitor its users at every turn, or is it just a question of wording in the FBI’s very general data protection regulations, which apply not only to the app but also to the website, among other things? It’s difficult to judge from the outside. One thing is clear: Terrorists & Co. are unlikely to load official FBI apps onto their smartphones anyway, and the federal agency should also have sufficient covert tracking options. All the more remarkable is the unclear data handling in such a program and at a time when the sensitive handling of personal data is on everyone’s lips.

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