Garmin Epix

Garmin Epix

Garmin
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

Want a premium fitness smartwatch with all the bells and whistles...and buttons? Well, here you go. Garmin's Epix smartwatch is fancy with it's high end screen glass and workouts and long battery life and more. It also tracks all the steps, heart rate, pulse ox, stress, sleep, body battery, and other body-related info you can imagine. Strap it on and do a workout from an app, get coached up, see your performance metrics, and gauge your stamina. But best of all, if touchscreens can be tough to work with your big fingers, the Epix also has physical buttons on the side just like your favorite Casio watch back in the day. Great! Even better, Garmin does a pretty good job at protecting your privacy with all that health data it collects.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

When your *Privacy Not Included researcher wanted to get a fitness tracking smartwatch to see how stressed out reading privacy policies made her, Garmin is what she went with. Because Garmin seems to do one of the best jobs handling the privacy and security of all the personal data fitness trackers collect, at least according to their really not that stressful privacy policy.

Here’s what this privacy researcher likes about Garmin. Yes, they do collect a good bit of personal information through the device and on the Garmin Connect app because that’s what a fitness tracking smartwatch does. They collect data like email address, device information, location, and all that body related data like physical activity, stress, sleep patterns, heat rate, pulse ox, and more. The good thing is, yes, they collect it, but they also seem to protect it.

Your “sharing with others” user settings in the Garmin Connect app are set to “private” by default. Which is great. You can choose to share your data with contacts if you wish, but you have to change your privacy settings to do that. Good work Garmin. Garmin also doesn’t share your personal information for advertising purposes with third parties. They ask you to opt-in rather than opt-out of consent to receive marketing communications from them. And their privacy policy is actually pretty good at laying out what data they collect, clearly explaining why they collect it, and how it is used. That’s all worth another, good work Garmin!

Garmin also seems to do a pretty good job securing the personal information they collect. However, they did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. Ransomware attacks suck and it seems no company is safe from them these days. Good news though, no user data was actually compromised in that attack, so, once more, good work Garmin.

Garmin isn’t 100% perfect though. We do ding them because they don’t make it clear in their privacy policy that all users -- regardless of where they live and the privacy laws they live under -- have the same right to access and delete their data. Garmin told us they don’t deny any user those requests. However, it seems based on the way their privacy policy is worded, they could. Garmin told us they would revisit the wording in their privacy policy on this issue. Here’s hoping they make an update to clarify that soon.

Is your intrepid privacy researcher happy with her decision to get a Garmin fitness tracker? Yes, she is. Although it does make her a little nervous that she now leaves her phone's Bluetooth on all the time. But hey, knowing that body battery score is really cool! What’s the worst that could happen with your fun Garmin fitness tracking smartwatch? Well, hopefully nothing, but do beware if you link your data to other third party apps like Strava and MyFitnessPal. Those apps come with their own privacy policies and every time you share your personal information with someone else you increase the vulnerability of that personal information.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Be very careful who you choose to share your Garmin wellness data with.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in the Garmin Connect app to suit your comfort level.
  • Don't connect your Garmin app to any social networks like Facebook, WeChat, etc.
  • When you no longer use the app, go to "Delete account" in the app menu.
  • Turn off precise location sharing!
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images and videos).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: No

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

WeChat, QQ, Google, and Apple log-ins available

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Garmin clearly states they don't sell your personal information to anyone. Garmin doesn’t share any data collected from a user’s device unless the user directs them to do so.

If you choose to authorize Garmin to permit a third party, such as your wellness program provider, or an app, such as MyFitnessPal, Strava, or TrainingPeaks, to access your activity data in your Garmin account, then they will share such data with the third party.

How the company says they may share data with law enforcement:
Garmin may also share data to comply with legal obligations, such as a valid subpoena, court or judicial order, or other valid legal process.

How can you control your data?

It is unclear if all users regardless of location can get their data be deleted.

Garmin will retain your personal data as long as your Garmin account is considered to be active or in accordance with applicable law and regulatory obligations.

If you reside in the EEA, U.K., or Switzerland, you have the right, subject to the conditions set out in the General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") or other applicable law, to request from Garmin access to and rectification or erasure of your personal data.

If you do not reside in the EEA, U.K., Switzerland, or mainland China but you believe you have a right to exercise the right to erasure of your data or any other rights under your local laws, please contact Garmin International, Inc. by email at [email protected]

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

Average

They did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. No user data was compromised during this attack.

Child Privacy Information

"We request individuals under the age of 13 in the U.S. and under the age of 16 in the rest of the world not provide personal data to Garmin. If we learn that we have collected personal data from a child under the age of 13 in the U.S. or under 16 in the rest of the world, we will take steps to delete the information as soon as possible."

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Garmin has an easy to find list of all privacy policies. The privacy policies are relatively simple to read.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Garmin devices and apps use a combination of asymmetric and symmetric encryption appropriate to the nature and function of the product, and data stored/transmitted.

Strong password

Yes

In order to use companion apps, an account with a strong password is required.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Garmin uses Machine Learning (ML) to provide personalized insights to customers who wish to receive them as they pursue their fitness and wellness goals.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

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

Garmin says in their privacy policy, "Garmin does not make any decisions based on algorithms or other automated processing that significantly affect you."

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Garmin’s New Aviator Watch Partly Addresses a Risk the War in Ukraine Is Highlighting – Microtargeting
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  • A Cyberattack on Garmin Disrupted More Than Workouts
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  • Using the Menstrual Cycle Tracking Feature
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  • Ransomware attack on Garmin thought to be the work of 'Evil Corp'
    The Guardian
  • The Garmin Security Breach: Here’s What You Need to Know
    Terra Nova

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