Muslim Pro, a popular Muslim prayer app with over a 100 million users, on Tuesday, denied the reports which said that the company sold users' data to US military, the company called all such reports "incorrect" and "untrue".
The statement came after a report by Vice's magazine Motherboard said that the US Special Operations Command was procuring data from several companies. Muslim Pro is the most popular app of the list which includes a dating app called Muslim Mingle, Craigslist app Cplus, a step counter app named Accupedo among many others. The Motherboard report said that these apps sold personal user information to a company called X-Mode, which obtained location data directly from apps and sold it to contractors. The contractors were then said to have sold the data to the US military, which had infamously used it for many things, including selecting targets for drone strikes.
The US military has confirmed the news report.
"Our access to the software is used to support Special Operations Forces mission requirements overseas," Navy Commander Tim Hawkins was quoted by Motherboard as saying. "We strictly adhere to established procedures and policies for protecting the privacy, civil liberties, constitutional and legal rights of American citizens."
The Motherboard report also said that the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a branch of the military tasked with counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, bought access to user location data to assist on overseas Special Forces operations.
Soon after the news went viral, the app faced a backlash on social media.
Several users said they were uninstalling the app after it raised concerns about data and surveillance
Some even drew parallels between US counter-terrorism strategies and efforts at counter-radicalization by the UK Home Office, such as the controversial Prevent program, which Muslims say targets them disproportionately.
After the backlash, the mobile app in its official statement said that it was terminating relationships with all data partners, including X-Mode immediately.
We are committed to helping the Muslim community practice their faith. Our comprehensive Islamic mobile application reaches almost 100 million users across more than 216 countries worldwide. We apologize to all our users for the concern that these reports have caused them, and we can confirm that your data is secure with us. The app said in its official statement.
The statement, however, didn't go too well with the social media; users said that the management at Muslim Pro is playing "word games".
A Technology startup founded in 2009, Muslim Pro is currently owned by Bintang Capital (Malaysia) and CMIA (Singapore).