Strava Responds to Controversy with Opt-Out Redesign

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Earlier this year, it was discovered that data gathered and shared by popular fitness apps had the potential to reveal sensitive information regarding the movements of soldiers and the locations of U.S. military bases after the GPS tracking company Strava published a global heat map in November 2017 showing patterns of activity gathered by satellite over a two-year period.

Related: Data from Wearables Reveals Sensitive Military Info

A new awareness of the potential harm to be done by publishing similar data that is automatically collected and universally shared caused many fitness tracking app providers to take a critical look at their own user privacy settings and protocols for protecting information — including taking more serious precautions against hacking and other database breaches.

Related: Is Fitness Tracking Data Secure?

Since the controversy arose in January, Strava has also taken steps to redesign its app, making it easier for users to opt out of the global activities heat map feature. While users must still actively opt out to preclude their activities from being shared on the map, the option is now made available on the first page of the user’s privacy settings, rather than buried several clicks in.

According to The Verge, the change was applied to the app for all users in February. In a statement, Strava CEO James Quarles wrote, “our engineering and user-experience teams are simplifying our privacy and safety features to ensure you know how to control your own data.”

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