Runkeeper Is Tracking your Location, Sending to Advertisers

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If you use Runkeeper to track your runs, you may want to rethink that. It turns out the app is actually tracking you all the time. Even when you're not using it. That may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but FitnessKeeper (the company that owns and develops Runkeeper) has been selling this data to advertisers without getting permission from their users. That's where the issue lays, and why they are receiving a formal complaint from the Norwegian Consumer Council. As they are going against the European data protection laws, which are taken quite seriously in Europe.

The data that Runkeeper is tracking and selling to advertisers is your location. This is actually really helpful data for advertisers, as they can target the user with ads that would work in their area. Say there's a new restaurant that opened up nearby. They can advertise that restaurant to people in the area, instead of around the country, and get a better response for their client. But that doesn't make this practice okay. The advertiser that Runkeeper sells this data to is Kiip.me and is located in the US. When it comes to Runkeeper tracking you, it's expected. But only while you are using the app. As Finn Myrstad, Norwegian Consumer Council Digital Policy Director stated, "everyone understands that Runkeeper tracks users while they exercise, but to continue after the training has ended is not okay. Not only is it a breach of privacy laws, we are also convinced that users do not want to be tracked in this way, or for information to be shared with third party advertisers."

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The Norwegian Consumer Council is a consumer rights watchdog and they have been looking into about 20 different apps to see if they do exactly what their permissions state, and to monitor their data. Runkeeper was one of those apps that does indeed flow data to third-party services. Tinder is another one, that is doing pretty much the same thing as Runkeeper. The NCC has also found that Runkeeper has multiple breaches of user privacy. However, since the company is a US-based company, there's not much that the Norway Data Protection Agency can do with them, in terms of imposing sanctions on the company.

If you do use Runkeeper, and aren't too keen on them tracking you 24/7 and then selling that data to advertisers, then it's a good idea to uninstall that app and find another app to track your runs.