Many of us have fitness apps loaded on our phones: Nike+, Apple’s Health App, Zombies, Run!, and the list goes on and on, but there’s a new option now available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
The FBI markets this app as a way to “learn what it’s like to train as an agent.”
The problem, as we criminal defense lawyers see it? This app tracks your location, as most fitness tracker apps do, so it can log mileage for walks or runs, for example; however, if law enforcement wants that information from your average fitness tracker app, they are going to have to go to that company and ask nicely (most companies will say no as they have determined that the cost of providing their customers’ data to the government is much more expensive than the pain of not acquiescing to the government’s requests), or they have to go to court and get a search warrant ordering that company to provide them the records. And in order to get a search warrant, they must demonstrate to the court’s satisfaction that they have probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be located in the information they want that company to disclose.
This app? Gives them access to your location data without any type of court order or supervision.
This app requests your phone provide your precise and approximate location, that it have permission to read the contents of your USB storage, and have full network access, prevent your phone from sleeping, and read your Google service configuration.
There may be nothing harmful, here, but there are so many non-governmental fitness tracker apps, we wouldn't use one that willingly gives information on our every move to the government. Be thoughtful about the apps you install on your phone and think hard before you willingly become a witness against yourself.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges and your location data is being used against you, give us a call at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.