The decision came after a media outlet reported about data gathering and sharing tactics of location data collection firm X-Mode Social.
On Wednesday, Google confirmed that it would ban apps containing the location tracking software developed by X-Mode Social, a high-profile data broker in the US.
The company will push out X-Mode apps from all Android devices. A similar announcement was made by Apple, which will ban the company’s app from all iOS devices.
X-Mode creates apps intended for Muslim users, such as a Quran and prayer app Muslim Pro and an online dating platform for Muslims called Muslim Mingle.
The move comes after Motherboard published a report revealing that X-Mode has links to the US defense sector, particularly the US military and defense contractors. The report claims that X-Mode collects the location data of its users.
Reportedly, the company has implanted X-Mode tracking software in several popular apps such as Muslim Pro, which has been downloaded more than 98 million times.
The report further revealed that the company sells data to government contractors related to aspects like counterterrorism, national security, and coronavirus response.
After the report was published, Google warned X-Mode and gave the company seven days to remove the software from the apps or request for an extension in deadline if it is a complex task.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google’s spokesperson stated that if X-Mode failed to remove the code within the given timeframe, the app would be removed from Google Play Store.
On the other hand, Apple also gave X-Mode developers a warning to remove the tracking software from smartphone apps; otherwise, the iPhone maker will block its apps from the App Store.
Both Apple and Google are currently dominating the global tech market. Being banned from such coveted and widely used platforms will put X-Mode’s future in the digital community at risk.
The companies reported their decisions related to X-Mode to US Senator Ron Wyden’s team as his office is currently involved in investigating the selling of location data to US government agencies. Regarding the Motherboard’s report about X-Mode, Senator Wyden stated that:
“Americans are sick of learning about apps selling their location information and other sensitive data to anyone with a check book, including to the government.”
“Apple and Google deserve credit for doing the right thing and exiling X-Mode Social, the most high-profile tracking company, from their app stores. But there’s still far more work to be done to protect Americans’ privacy, including rooting out the many other data brokers that are siphoning data from Americans’ phones.”
X-Mode’s tweet in June on sharing data:
A message from our CEO, Josh Anton: pic.twitter.com/ghtOrm0I1J
— X-Mode Social (@xmodesocial) June 8, 2020