VPNOverview.com Report: Many Ramadan apps spark privacy concerns and often pose substantial risks


NIJMEGEN, Netherlands: According to research conducted by VPNOverview.com, a significant number of Ramadan apps pose privacy concerns for their users. The apps, which are used to keep track of prayer times or to contact fellow believers, often lack clear privacy conditions and do not explicitly adhere to the GDPR in nine out of ten cases. The findings are the result of research by VPNOverview.com into the safety of 50 popular Ramadan apps.

Lack of Clarity

The privacy policies of 45 of the 50 apps examined do not clarify how user data is secured, for instance through encryption.

For 34 of the 50 Ramadan apps, it is unclear when and how user data is processed and used. Considering this lack of clarity, it is plausible that personal data is shared with and sold to third parties by these apps.

In fact, no privacy policy is available at all for seven of the apps studied. This includes a popular app which has been downloaded more than five million times worldwide.

Only one in 10 apps explicitly adheres to the GDPR

Only one in 10 apps expressly indicate that they comply with European privacy legislation (GDPR). One of the most popular apps, with over 50 million downloads, made headlines last year when user data came into the hands of the US military, sparking uproar and concern among users despite assurances that the app adhered to GDPR regulations.

The fact that few apps explicitly adhere to the GDPR may have to do with their origin: many apps have been developed in Asia, a region known for security and privacy issues when it comes to tech and data collection. In total, 26 of the 50 apps examined come from Asian developers. Because they do not comply with the GDPR, it is uncertain how the data will be handled.

David Janssen, cyber security analyst at VPNOverview.com, commented: “It is wise to be critical and careful with the apps you use, and pay particular attention to the data these apps keep track of, and with whom this data is shared. 

This is especially true for apps linked to your religion. During Ramadan it is of course very useful to be able to view prayer times through an app. Although the apps are probably well-intentioned in most cases, sensitive data can sometimes accidentally end up in the hands of third parties, as we’ve seen happen recently. It therefore does not hurt to look for a prayer app that puts a strong emphasis on privacy.”