Gig App Gathering Data for U.S. Military, Others Prompts Safety Concerns

Briefly banned in Ukraine, U.S. mobile-phone app Premise does defense work globally and has faced contributor safety issues.


WASHINGTON—In 2019, Ukrainian users of a U.S.-based mobile-phone app offering paid, short-term tasks got what sounded like a straightforward assignment: Go into rural Ukraine and take smartphone photos of certain fields and farms around Odessa and Kyiv.

U.S.-based app Premise, which has some U.S. military contracts, hires some gig-workers with smartphones in geopolitical hotspots to gather open-source information.

But for one contributor, the job turned out to be anything but ordinary when one of the fields turned out to lie next to a military checkpoint. The contributor was chased off by armed soldiers, according to people familiar with the matter. The app’s owner, Premise Data Corp., said it immediately deleted the task from its platform after learning of the military checkpoint. Read the full story here.

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