Polar social site reveals work and home locations of military personnel

In July 2018, Dutch researcher Foeke Postma discovered that Polar, the manufacturer of the world's first wireless heart rate monitor manufacturer, was exposing the heart rates, routes, dates, times, duration, and pace of exercises performed by individuals at military sites and at their homes via its social platform, Polar Flow. Polar placed these individuals at particular risk by showing all the exercises a particular individual has completed since 2014 on a single global map. Postma was able to scrape Polar's site for individuals exercising at more than 200 sensitive sites and gather a list of nearly 6,500 unique users, many of whom registered their real names and other information with the site and some of whom connected their accounts to Facebook and/or several other apps, including Strava. The Pentagon noted that a "large" number of its employees use Polar.


Writer: Foeke Postma; Rebecca Tan
Publication: Bellingcat; Washington Post

What is Privacy International calling for?

People must know

People must be able to know what data is being generated by devices, the networks and platforms we use, and the infrastructure within which devices become embedded.  People should be able to know and ultimately determine the manner of processing.

Data should be protected

Data should be protected from access by persons who are not the user.

Limit data analysis by design

As nearly every human interaction now generates some form of data, systems should be designed to limit the invasiveness of data analysis by all parties in the transaction and networking.

Control over intelligence

Individuals should have control over the data generated about their activities, conduct, devices, and interactions, and be able to determine who is gaining this intelligence and how it is to be used.