North Dakota’s Coronavirus Tracking App Admits To Violating Its Own Privacy Policy

North Dakota and South Dakota’s contact tracing application violated its own privacy policy after it shared user data to a third company, an analysis published Thursday showed.

Both states relied on North Dakota app maker ProudCrowd to make Care19 free of charge to anyone with an Apple or Google Android, The Washington Post reported. The report was based on an analysis from privacy software maker Jumbo, which found that the app maker shared data to FourSquare, a location-data provider for marketers.

“Should this have been vetted? Yes. We are following up on that as we speak,” Vern Dosch, North Dakota’s contact-tracing officer, told WaPo. “We know that people are very sensitive.”

Neither Apple nor the South Dakota Health Department have responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment. Apple told WaPo that it’s investigating the review.

ProudCrowd confirmed to WaPo that the app shared some non-commercial use data with FourSquare. The Google Android version of Care19 obscures the data it shares to FourSquare, ProudCrowd said. (RELATED: Sen Hawley Asks Big Tech Not To Hide Behind Their ‘Corporate Shield’ On Privacy Issues)

An attendee holds a container of Lysol disinfecting wipes as San Francisco Mayor London Breed (R) speaks during a press conference at San Francisco City Hall on March 16, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An attendee holds a container of Lysol (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Foursquare does “not use the data in any way and it is promptly discarded,” spokeswoman Jennifer Yu told WaPo. “Essentially, any data we might receive is immediately discarded.”

Care19 reminded people where they’ve been so they can retrace their steps and determine if they’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, before spreading to the United States, where it has reportedly killed nearly 100,000 people.

If users test COVID-19 positive, then they can use the app to share data with the state’s Department of Health. The app is voluntary.

Care19 uses a Foursquare service called Pilgrim SDK to convert location data as latitude and longitude into the names of recognizable places, according to the app’s maker, Tim Brookins of ProudCrowd.

“The Care19 application user interface clearly calls out the usage of Foursquare on our ‘Nearby Places’ screen, per the terms of our Foursquare agreement,” Brookins told WaPo. “We will be working with our state partners to be more explicit in our privacy policy.”

Lawmakers worry big tech companies are not doing enough to protect privacy data as they work to deploy contact tracing technology.

“If it doesn’t have a strong privacy framework, it will undermine consumer confidence,” Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington told WaPo.

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