Garmin Forerunner Series
Review date: Nov. 8, 2021
If you're looking for a gadget that knows more about you than you know about yourself, this is it. The list of sensors on these watches include GPS, glonass, galileo, heart rate, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, and pulse ox. All those sound super cool. super nerdy, and super all up in your business. Not only do these watches have a zillion sensors, they also handle your music, calendar, texts, have the ability to up your golf game (seriously), and even give you a way to send an alert if you've fallen and can't get up.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
When your *Privacy Not Included researcher wanted to get a fitness tracker, Garmin is what she went with. Garmin seems to do one of the best jobs handling the privacy and security of all the personal data fitness trackers collect. They did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. Ransomware attacks suck and it seems no company is safe from them these days.
Garmin says they don’t sell your personal data to anyone. This is great. Garmin also seems to do a good job with what data they do share, which doesn’t seem to be too much. They ask for explicit consent before sharing things like location data for navigation purposes and emails for marketing.
Garmin may share or sell de-identified aggregate data collected by the Garmin Connect app with third parties to do things like make their features better or for research purposes. This doesn’t worry us too much. Although now is a good time to remind you that it’s been found to be pretty easy to de-anonymize some types of data and track down an individual’s patterns, especially with location data. If you’re worried about this, you can opt out of using the Garmin Connect app, you’ll just lose a lot of cool data about your sleep, stress, and menstrual cycles if you do.
Is our 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!
Tips to protect yourself
- Be very careful who you chose 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.
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email address, gender (optional), age (optional), date of birth (optional), photos (optional), location
Tracks steps, active minutes, and hours of sleep.
You can add friends to see their activity data
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
They did suffer that very public ransomware attack in 2020. No user data was compromised during this attack.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Garmin has an easy to find list of all privacy policies. The privacy polices are relatively simple to read.
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
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.
In order to use companion apps, an account with a strong password is required.
Garmin use 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?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
Got a comment? Let us hear it.