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Strava denies Global Heatmap uses full ride data and poses security risk

Says hidden users’ ‘hidden locations’ were respected when collating the data

Strava has denied suggestions that its Global Heatmap ignores users’ privacy settings in response to claims that it features rides that start from people’s homes even where there is a privacy zone in place.

Strava Global Heatmap, unveiled last week, lets you explore where people are running and riding around the world in minute detail via an interactive map.

However, some have expressed concern that there is a little too much detail in what’s presented. Several members of the team checked where they live and the map appears to show activity in and out of their house or driveway.

Strava allows users to set ‘hidden locations’ centred on a particular address – typically your home. If your activity starts or ends within a 500m-1km radius of the address, the start and/or end of the activity will be hidden from other users.

There is also a tick box within settings stating whether or not you are happy for your public activity data to be included in Strava Metro and the Heatmap.

Strava pointed us towards a post on its engineering blog where it states that privacy zones and the opt-out option were both respected when compiling the data.

In a section titled “Input Data and Filtering” it says: “Most importantly, our platform has numerous privacy rules that must be respected,” and states: “Private activities are excluded outright; Activities are cropped to respect user defined privacy zones; Athletes with the Metro/heatmap opt-out privacy setting have all data excluded.”

Gareth Nettleton, VP of Marketing for Strava, said: "Our Global Heatmaps feature heat from over a billion anonymised runs, rides and other activities. As with all Strava features, privacy is a huge consideration. Private activities are excluded from heatmaps outright and activities are cropped to respect any user defined privacy zones. It is also possible to opt out of heatmaps specifically within Strava's privacy settings. We have a set of world-class tools that allow you to manage what you share and we encourage all our members to follow our guidelines on privacy."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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