Wearable Tech World Feature Article
August 12, 2014

Could Fitness Tracking Devices be a Threat to Your Privacy?

Fitness tracking devices are quickly becoming a hot-ticket item among consumers looking to lose weight and stay in shape, as they can be used to track a wearer's movements throughout the day and give real-time updates on what needs to be done for a healthier body. However, the same feature that makes these devices so popular could also be what makes them a dreaded invasion of privacy. As beneficial as these programs may be, the fact remains there is currently little from stopping the private fitness companies from selling the information they collect to the highest bidder.

“Personal fitness bracelets and the data they collect on your health, sleep, and location, should be just that – personal” said Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York. Schumer is attempting to make a case to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that would require these companies to offer their customers opportunities to opt-out of the collection of personal data. “The fact that private health data – rich enough to identify the user's gait – is being gathered by applications like FitBit and can then be sold to third-parties without the user's consent is a true privacy nightmare.”

Even though the data collected by companies like FitBit are only actually used to improve users' fitness regimens, that same information could be interpreted by a number of different companies for far more nefarious purposes. Ranging everywhere from finding out when consumers are sleeping and where the best locations to advertise are to determining the daily routines of specific individuals, such information could even find itself traded around until it winds up on the black market and in the hands of a criminal. While this hypothetical scenario is a stretch, it is still entirely within the realm of possibility. 

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