Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit Sense 2

Google
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Very creepy

Always wanted an Apple Watch for all the cool health tracking and smart watch features but don't have an iPhone? Fitbit made their new Sense health and fitness tracker for you. This busy little watch measures your heart with an ECG, your blood oxygen levels, your stress through your skin temperature and electrodermal activity, how well (or not well) you are sleeping, it tracks your menstrual cycle, and more. It'll also track you with GPS, count your steps and calories and active minutes. The Sense literally knows when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake and knows if you've been bad or good. Santa, we see you.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

As of January 14, 2021, Google officially became the owner of Fitbit. That worried many privacy conscious users. However, Google promised that “Fitbit users’ health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data” for at least 10 years as part of the deal with global regulators. However, Fitbit and Google announced in 2022 that a Google account will be required for some uses of Fitbit starting in 2023. And in 2025, Google accounts will likely be required to use a Fitbit, indicating Google has plans to bring Fitbit users into the Google ecosystem as much as they can.

What’s this mean? Well, Fitbit can collect a good amount of data, as most fitness trackers do. They say they collect things such as name, email address, phone number, birthdate, gender, height, weight, location, wi-fi access points, and of course all the body related data like steps, activity, sleep, stress, calories burned, and more. Fitbit also says they can collect data from third parties social media sites like Facebook and Google if you choose to connect them (please, don’t) and from employers and insurance companies if you choose to share to receive wellness benefits or discounted or free services (again, not a good idea).

How does Fitbit use all this personal information it collects? Well, the good news is their privacy policy says they never sell your data. They also say they can share your personal information with advertising partners for targeted, interest-based advertising across the internet, which isn’t good news. And they say they can use that information to make inferences about you to show you more relevant content -- like using your sleep data to show you content to help you sleep better, which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t actually help me sleep better. So yeah, your Fitbit data is being used to show you ads and keep you using the platform as much as possible. Not surprising, but not great either.

Fitbit also says it can share non-personal information that has been de-identified or aggregated. This is pretty common, but still, can be a bit of a concern as it’s been found to be pretty easy to de-anonymize these data sets and track down an individual’s patterns, especially with location data. So, be aware with Fitbit--or any fitness tracker--you are strapping on a device that tracks your location, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more. That's a lot of personal information gathered in one place.

What’s the worst that could happen with a Fitbit and all the personal and health related data it can collect? Well, in 2021 it was reported that health data for over 61 million fitness tracker users, including both Fitbit and Apple, was exposed when a third-party company that allowed users to sync their health data from their fitness trackers did not secure the data properly. Personal information such as names, birthdates, weight, height, gender, and geographical location for Fitbit and other fitness-tracker users was left exposed because the company didn't password protect or encrypt their database. This is a great reminder that yes, while Fitbit might do a good job with their own security, anytime you sync or share that data with anyone else including third party apps, your employer, or a insurance company, it could be vulnerable.I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the world to know my weight, how well I sleep, and where I live. That’s really dang creepy.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Follow Fitbit's advice to keep your stats private
  • Be very careful what third party companies you consent to share you health data with. If you do decided to share your health data with another company, read their privacy policy to see how they protect, secure, and share or sell your data.
  • Stop sharing friends' lists: Under “Friends” on your profile page, select Privacy Setting and then Private.
  • Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
  • Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
  • Keep your app regularly updated
  • Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
  • Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
  • When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

According to Google, a Google account will be required for some uses of Fitbit starting in 2023, with all users likely needing Google accounts to use Fitbit in 2025. "In 2023 we plan to launch Google accounts on Fitbit, which will enable use of Fitbit with a Google account. After the date of this launch, some uses of Fitbit will require a Google account"

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

"We never sell the personal information of our users. We do not share your personal information except in the limited circumstances described below: [...] FOR EXTERNAL PROCESSING, [...] FOR LEGAL REASONS OR TO PREVENT HARM, "

"We never sell the personal information of our users. We do work with partners who provide us with advertising services as described in the Analytics and Advertising Services Provided By Others section. To learn more about how these partners collect data and your options for controlling the use of your information for interest-based advertising, please read our Cookie Use statement"

Fitbit says they can share your data with third-parties for targeted, interest-based advertising. "We work with partners who provide us with analytics and advertising services. This includes helping us understand how users interact with the Services, serving advertisements on our behalf across the internet, and measuring the performance of those advertisements. These companies may use cookies and similar technologies to collect information about your interactions with the Services and other websites and applications. To learn more and about your privacy choices, please read our Cookie Use statement."

Fitbit says that they transfer information to their corporate affiliates, service providers, and other partners: "We transfer information to our corporate affiliates, service providers, and other partners who process it for us, based on our instructions, and in compliance with this policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures. These partners provide us with services globally, including for customer support, information technology, payments, sales, marketing, data analysis, research, and surveys."

"We may share non-personal information that is aggregated or de-identified so that it cannot reasonably be used to identify an individual. We may disclose such information publicly and to third parties, for example, in public reports about exercise and activity, to partners under agreement with us, or as part of the community benchmarking information we provide to users of our subscription services."

How can you control your data?

Everyone can get their data deleted by deleting their account and waiting for 90 days,

"We keep your account information, like your name, email address, and password, for as long as your account is in existence because we need it to operate your account. In some cases, when you give us information for a feature of the Services, we delete the data after it is no longer needed for the feature. For instance, when you provide your contact list for finding friends on the Services, we delete the list after it is used for adding contacts as friends. We keep other information, like your exercise or activity data, until you use your account settings or tools to delete the data or your account because we use this data to provide you with your personal statistics and other aspects of the Services. We also keep information about you and your use of the Services for as long as necessary for our legitimate business interests, for legal reasons, and to prevent harm, including as described in the How We Use Information and How Information Is Shared sections."

"Editing and Deleting Data. By logging into your account and using your account settings, you can change and delete your personal information. For instance, you can edit or delete the profile data you provide and delete your account if you wish. Learn more here. If you choose to delete your account, please note that while most of your information will be deleted within 30 days, it may take up to 90 days to delete all of your information, like the data recorded by your Fitbit device and other data stored in our backup systems. This is due to the size and complexity of the systems we use to store data. We may also preserve data for legal reasons or to prevent harm, including as described in the How Information Is Shared section."

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

Average

In 2021 Fitbit's security measures did not prevent the major data leak of 61 million fitness tracker data records, including Fitbit user data, by the third-party company GetHealth. In September 2021, a group of security researchers discovered GetHealth had an unsecured database containing over 61 million records related to wearable technology and fitness services. GetHealth accessed health data belonging to wearable device users around the world and leaked it in an non-password protected, unencrypted database. The list contained names, birthdates, weight, height, gender, and geographical location, as well as other medical data, such as blood pressure.

In 2020, it was reported the emails and passwords of nearly 2 million Fitbit users was leaked online.

Child Privacy Information

"We appreciate the importance of taking additional measures to protect children’s privacy.

Fitbit allows parents to set up accounts for their children to use with select Fitbit devices (“Children’s Account”). Children’s Accounts are subject to a separate Privacy Policy for Children’s Accounts which explains what information we collect to set up these accounts, what information we collect from a child’s use of our Services, and how we use and share that information. Parents or guardians must consent to the use of their child’s data in accordance with the Privacy Policy for Children’s Accounts in order to create such an account.

Persons under the age of 13, or any higher minimum age in the jurisdiction where that person resides, are not permitted to create accounts unless their parent has consented in accordance with applicable law. If we learn that we have collected the personal information of a child under the relevant minimum age without parental consent, we will take steps to delete the information as soon as possible. Parents who believe that their child has submitted personal information to us and would like to have it deleted may contact us at [email protected]"

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Despite being acquired by Google, Fitbit keeps its own privacy policy, written in relatively simple language.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Strong password

Yes

To create a Fitbit account, users are required to provide strong, complex, passwords during onboarding.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

FitBit Coach and FitBit Care services are said to be based on Machine Learning

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?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Fitbit Setup Requirements
    Fitbit
  • Fitbit users will be forced to migrate to Google accounts by 2025
    The Verge
  • Fitbit Increases Security Requirements, Mandates Google Login From 2023
    Infosecurity
  • Google’s New Plan to Make Fitbit Data More Useful for Healthcare
    Health Tech Insider
  • 2 Million Fitbit Accounts Were Exposed by Cybercriminals
    HackerNoon
  • Standard Privacy Report for Fitbit
    Common Sense
  • Google Now Owns Fitbit: What It Means For Your Fitness Data Privacy
    Forbes
  • 61M Fitbit, Apple Users Had Data Exposed in Wearable Device Data Breach
    Health IT Security
  • Google closes $2.1B acquisition of Fitbit as Justice Department probe continues
    Fierce Healthcare
  • Here's what your Fitbit knows about you
    Avast
  • Fitbit Joins Google
    Fitbit

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