Amazon Halo

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Amazon Halo

Amazon
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 2, 2020

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy
Not gonna lie, this is the creepiest fitness tracker we've seen yet. Amazon's fitness band--there's no display, it's just a fitness tracking band packed full of sensors and microphones--tracks the usual: steps, heart rate, sleep, calories, and more. The Halo's microphones listen to you and use machine learning to measure the tone, energy, and positivity of your voice to " help strengthen communication." And that's not even the creepiest part! Amazon also asks you to take pictures of yourself in your underwear so it can measure and track your body fat. Yeah, no thanks. Giving Amazon a picture of yourself in your underwear sounds like a truly terrible idea, even if they claim it will automatically be deleted from the cloud after it is processed. It's nice they put a little note on the product page talking about how seriously they take your privacy. With everything this device collects, we sure hope that's true. This fitness tracker also requires a $4 a month subscription to access all features.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Amazon, you've done it. You've taken creepy to a whole new level with this tracking device. We're filing this under, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." The problem isn't that all the data this device collects is kept insecurely, Amazon does a good job securing your data. The problem is what Amazon can potentially use all this data for. While Amazon states that it does not use Halo health data for marketing, product recommendations, or advertising, the Halo is still collecting a lot of personal biometric information about you--including listening to what you say and measuring your tone. What can give you insights into your health, could also potentially give others information about things like your emotional state while you are looking at something, how attracted you are to someone, or even if you've been drinking. That's level of personal information is not something we want Amazon--or any other tech company--potentially knowing.
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: No

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Body scan images are automatically deleted from the cloud after processing. Speech samples are processed on the customer's phone and automatically deleted after processing. Other than providing you with information about your body fat and your tone, we're not quite sure yet how Amazon will use this data. Amazon says that they do not use Amazon Halo health data for marketing, product recommendations, or advertising. Amazon does not sell Amazon Halo health data.

How can you control your data?

You can delete your Halo data in the Halo app. You can manually turn off the microphones on the Halo Band.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Needs Improvement

In October, 2020, Amazon fired an employee for leaking customer email addresses to an unnamed third party. In November, 2018, Amazon suffered a data breach that caused customer names and email addresses to be disclosed on its webpage. Additionally, since Halo is a brand new product that collects a lot of data in a sensitive category (health), we're flagging Amazon's track record of building the infrastructure for too much detailed data collection and surveillence that could be used by others for harm as a risk consumers should consider.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Data is encrypted in transit and at rest.

Strong password

Yes

Halo users create or choose a unique profile when they first use Halo. Customers must validate a one-time passcode whenever they log-in to the Halo app.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Amazon has a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid. Security researchers can report a vulnerability here. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201909140

Privacy policy

Yes

Amazon has clearly thought through the mechanisms for protecting user data when using the Halo. Amazon created a video summary to explain how privacy works for the Amazon Halo. It has also made a whitepaper available about Halo Privacy 101. It must be noted, though, that Amazon doesn't address how inference data can be used.

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

The purpose of the Amazon Halo is AI-powered health to track your wellness (body fat, activity levels, sleep, and tone of voice/emotions.) The AI will also rate your tone for “positivity” and “energy.” The model associates those emotional ratings with vocal qualities like pitch, intensity, tempo, and rhythm.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

No

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • ‘Millions of people’s data is at risk’ — Amazon insiders sound alarm over security
    Politico
  • Amazon hit with major data breach days before Black Friday
    The Guardian
  • Amazon Halo Band review: Creepy yet unobtrusive and useful for quantified self health data junkies
    Larry Dignan
  • Amazon Halo review
    Toms Guide
  • A new tool to help you understand and improve your social wellbeing
    Maulik Majmudar
  • Senator Klobuchar, spooked by Amazon Halo, asks for new health-tracker privacy protections
    Washington Post

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