Vice News reported last November that X-Mode was collecting the location data of people using apps intended for Muslim audiences. — AFP SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Dec 9 confirmed it is banning location tracking software developed by data collection firm X-Mode Social from apps on Android-powered mobile devices, which dominate the global market. Apple is also barring X-Mode from its coveted iOS devices, according to a Wall Street Journal report. US-based X-Mode has been the subject of recent media scrutiny for its links to the country's defense sector, particularly for selling data to government contractors involved in national security, counterterrorism and even coronavirus response. Vice News reported last November that X-Mode was collecting the location data of people using apps intended for Muslim audiences, particularly the dating platform Muslim Mingle. Google sent developers a warning giving them seven days to rid their apps of X-Mode software or request more time if doing so is technically complex, according to a spokesperson. "If X-Mode is still present in the app after the timeframe, the app will be removed from Play," the Google spokesperson said, referring to the Internet giant's online shop for mobile apps and digital content. Apple did not immediately return a request for comment. However, according to the Journal, it also gave developers a warning that X-Mode tracking software must be removed from smartphone apps which otherwise risk being blocked. Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems dominate the world smartphone market. The two tech giants reported their decisions on X-Mode to a team working for US Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, whose office is investigating the sale of location data to government agencies, the Journal said. X-Mode did not respond to AFP's request for comment. – AFP
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