Home / Technology / It’s not easy to opt out of the Strava heat map that’s revealing secret locations

It’s not easy to opt out of the Strava heat map that’s revealing secret locations

Over the weekend, information broke that information from the fitness-tracking app Strava used to be revealing data on clandestine locations. The information used to be anonymized, however the map used to be so detailed that it published paths on army bases.

While broadcasting your whereabouts is a foul safety coverage, customers most probably weren’t conscious that their data could be to be had on this a lot element. A scroll via the Strava app additionally presentations it takes some devoted digging to in finding the opt-out for the heat map particularly, in a irritating transfer for people who find themselves vigilant about monitoring.

Strava, which shall we customers sing their own praises their operating and biking routes, provides privateness keep watch over choices, as equivalent location-tracking apps do. But the corporate has been criticized in the previous for not making it transparent how to tweak the ones choices, or what they entail. In August, as an example, Quartz discovered that an “enhanced privacy” possibility would possibly not supply as a lot privateness as some would hope: customers’ routes confirmed up on public “leaderboards” whilst the atmosphere used to be on.

Unfortunately for customers in delicate spaces, it’s not seamlessly easy to opt out of the heat map, both. While the corporate does supply an opt-out field particularly for information utilized in the map, you will have problem discovering it from the cellular app.

On the internet, it’s somewhat easy. Under settings, there’s a privateness tab that presentations this field:


The provider’s cellular apps don’t have a devoted possibility however supply circuitous routes to the internet possibility.

For iOS customers, there is not any right away visual possibility for the heat map. To in finding it, customers have to navigate to settings, then the privateness dashboard, the place they're introduced with more than a few switches controlling the sharing of information. At the backside of the web page, in small textual content, they are able to discover a hyperlink to “further customize” privateness choices. That will carry them to the internet model of the provider, the place they are able to opt out of the heat map.


Android is much more difficult. From the privateness dashboard in the app, customers have to make a choice “learn more,” then “learn more” on a 2d web page, and in the end click on the “personal settings page,” which brings them again to the internet model of privateness settings.




Without a devoted field in the app, it’s not unreasonable to assume Strava customers would possibly by no means see the opt-out possibility, and as an alternative prevent at the first display. Even now, when customers is also actively in search of the atmosphere, it’s not easy to spot.

There does seem to be one possibility inside of the app to stay your actions off of the heat map, but it surely’s not obviously categorised. In a remark the day prior to this, a Strava spokesperson stated the heat map excludes non-public actions, and actions in “user-defined privacy zones.” The app contains an possibility, underneath the “Enhanced Privacy” atmosphere, to set all long run actions as “private by default,” even though it doesn’t point out the heat map. Strava additionally lets in customers on the internet to set person actions as non-public after the truth and to mark sure spaces as non-public, however you've to succeed in the similar webpage the place the heat map opt-out field is to be had.

Strava has incentive to inspire sharing: the corporate has billed itself as the social community for athletes. But that purpose would possibly not at all times align with customers who not best need, however want, obtrusive privateness controls. The Department of Defense as of late prompt workforce to use privateness settings, however that recommendation gained’t lend a hand a lot if it’s not transparent how to make the trade.

In the remark launched the day prior to this, the corporate defended its practices. “We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share,” the spokesperson stated.

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