Fitbit Sense

Fitbit Sense

Google
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

Always wanted an Apple Watch for all the cool health tracking and smart watch features but don't have and 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” as part of the deal with global regulators when they bought Fitbit. This is good.

And Fitbit seems to do an OK job with privacy and security. It de-identifies the data it collects so it's (hopefully) not personally identifiable. We say hopefully because, depending on the kind of data, 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 is not good is what can happen with all this very personal health data if others aren't careful. A recent report showed 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, it could be vulnerable. And Fitbit partners with many third parties such as employers and insurance companies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the world to know my weight 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.
mobile Privacy warning 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?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Fitbit says that they transfer information to their 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." You may also give consent for Fitbit to share your information in other ways, for example, when you give a third party access to your account, or give your employer or insurance company access to information when you choose to participate in a wellness program. Remember when you do that, their use of your information will be governed by their privacy policies and terms.

How can you control your data?

You can choose not to sync the device with the app. Fitbit keeps your account information, like your name, email address, and password, for as long as your account is in existence. Fitbit keeps your exercise or activity data, until you use your account settings or tools to delete the data or your account. Fitbit also keeps information about you and your use of the Services for as long as necessary for their legitimate business interests, legal reasons, etc. So, there is no clear and final way to delete your data. No retention details are stated either.

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

Average

Unfortunately, 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.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Despite being acquired by Google, Fitbit keeps its own privacy policy, written it 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

Fitbit has a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

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?

N/A

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine


News

Google Now Owns Fitbit: What It Means For Your Fitness Data Privacy
Forbes
Google’s acquisition of fitness tracker giant Fitbit has been completed.
61M Fitbit, Apple Users Had Data Exposed in Wearable Device Data Breach
Health IT Security
An independent cybersecurity researcher discovered a wearable device data breach that exposed the records of 61 million Apple and Fitbit users.
Google closes $2.1B acquisition of Fitbit as Justice Department probe continues
Fierce Healthcare
Google has closed its deal to buy Fitbit, the tech giant announced Thursday. The company announced in November 2019 plans to acquire the fitness tracking company to bolster its wearable capabilities. Google said it would acquire Fitbit for $7.25 per share in cash, valuing the company at $2.1 billion.
Here's what your Fitbit knows about you
Avast
Ensure that you're comfortable with the exchange of data for Fitbit's service
Fitbit Joins Google
Fitbit
I’m writing today to let you know that Fitbit is now officially part of Google. It’s an incredibly exciting moment for us as a company and for our Fitbit community of users around the globe.
We read your wearable tech's privacy policy so you don't have to
Wareable
What you agreed to - GDPR edition. Below, you'll find a quick intro on who fairs best in this new world of privacy policy. You'll then find break downs of a select number of company terms and services and privacy policies - complete with highlights and links for your perusal.
How to Lock Down Your Health and Fitness Data
David Nield
Whether you're a Fitbit user worried about Google's recent $2.1 billion purchase of the company or just generally privacy conscious, you should pay attention to where your health and fitness data goes and who has access. It's among the most sensitive data you have. While you unfortunately can't control where all of your health information goes—as a Google partnership with Ascension, the nation's second-largest health system, has proved—you can still dedicate a few minutes to a health data audit, making sure your calorie burns and step counts are completely private. Or, if not, that they're shared only by choice.

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