Garmin

Garmin

Garmin
Bluetooth

Review date: Aug. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

Stressed out? Overwhelmed? Neck in knots? Stomach a mess? Garmin's fitness trackers have you covered. They do all the usual fitness tracking stuff like activity, heart rate, sleep monitoring and more. They also track the time interval between each heartbeat and use that to figure out how stressed you are. If you get too stressed, they will vibrate and remind you to take a moment to breath. Deep breath everyone, this sounds like just what we need these days.

Update: In June 2022, after Roe vs Wade was overturned allowing US states to make access to abortion illegal, we took another look at the privacy and security of the Garmin Watch as a device that can track menstrual cycle and reproductive health data. Our updated review is below. Overall, Garmin does a pretty good job of protecting their users privacy and security and has a pretty good history as standing up to law enforcement requests for their users' data.

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!

Update, August 2022 following the overturn of Roe vs Wade protection reproductive health rights in the United States.

Garmin's wearables and the app they use, Garmin Connect, can be used for period and pregnancy tracking. Still, even though Garmin does collect a lot of very personal information, they do a pretty good job with privacy and security. However, if you share your Garmin Connect app data with another third-party such as MyFitnessPal or Strava, all that very personal data you share is not under the privacy policies of those third-parties, which might not be as good as Garmin's policies. So be very careful who you share your Garmin data with. Better yet, don't share it with anyone. And remember to password protect and lock down your phone so people can't access your period or pregnancy data there either.

When it comes to sharing data with law enforcement, Garmin's privacy policy says, "We may process and disclose personal data about you to others: … to comply with legal obligations, such as a valid subpoena, court or judicial order, or other valid legal process." Which isn't as strong and clear a statement of sharing data with law enforcement as we like to see. We much prefer when companies state they won't give up user data to law enforcement unless required to under subpoena, and even then, we like to see them commit to only giving up the bare minimum necessary.

Does this privacy researcher still use her Garmin fitness tracker? Yes. Does this privacy researcher use it to track her period? Yes. Is she worried that personal information could leak or be shared in a way she doesn't want. Also, yes. But not worried enough to stop using the device, because Garmin does do a pretty good job with privacy and security. And this privacy researcher understands nothing is perfect and we all have to determine our own risks versus reward. Now, if this privacy researcher lived in a state where abortion had recently been made illegal, she'd probably have a different take on matters. This is the sort of evaluation we all have to do right now, as nothing is 100% safe.

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!
  • 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 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)
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, or 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?

We ding this product as not all users may be able to delete their data.

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 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?

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


News

Pregnancy Tracking with Garmin
Garmin
If you are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, it’s likely that you already understand the importance of tracking your pregnancy. The changes your body is going through are nothing short of miraculous, but it’s critical that you monitor them to make sure both you and your baby are staying healthy. And did you know that you can track your pregnancy with your Garmin smartwatch?
Everything you need to know about tracking your pregnancy with Garmin
Android Authority
You can keep tabs on nine months of major change with the Pregnancy Tracking app on your Garmin device. This feature lets users track everything from morning sickness to baby kicks, so moms-to-be can stay informed and approach pregnancy with a plan. It also offers a wellspring of educational information and resources for understanding the happenings of all three trimesters.

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