Kinsa Smart Thermometers

Kinsa Smart Thermometers

Kinsa, Inc.
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

Thanks to the coronavirus, thermometers are a must have these days. Kinsa's smart thermometers take your temperature like a regular thermometer--there's one that does it in the ear and another the oral, under arm, anal way. What makes these thermometers interesting is that they connect to Kinsa's app via Bluetooth and give you personalized guidance based on your symptoms. They also take the health data they collect from the over two million thermometers in use and anonymously aggregate this date to see where illness outbreaks are happening down to a county or zip code level in the United States. You can even access this information at their site healthweather.us. This might worry some privacy experts, while making many public health experts working to battle illness outbreaks happy.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Kinsa seems to do a pretty good job with privacy and security. They say they won’t sell your personal information, which is good. They may de-identify and aggregate your personal information to create "Illness Signals" to help inform where and when illness is spreading. According to a 2018 NY Times article, they can use this de-identified data to target ads to an area based on illness outbreaks, or as they state in their privacy policy, “Help companies direct their marketing to sicker areas.” That sounds creepier than it probably actually is...we hope.

And de-identifying personal data is generally an OK practice and can help better public health, although many privacy researchers will point out it can be relatively easy to de-anonymize such data. If you’re looking for a smart thermometer that doesn’t share this sort of aggregated data, the Withings Thermo currently doesn't share health data to help determine public health outbreaks in an area.

What's the worst that could happen? You could record your symptoms in the app. Kinsa sees that you and seventeen others like you in your county have the same symptoms, alert public health officials to a potential outbreak of illness, and public health officials step in to stop further spread of the illness. That doesn't sound too bad in the age of coronavirus.

Tips to protect yourself

  • 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.
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: No

Microphone

Device: No

App: No

Tracks location

Device: No

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

Signup is not required to use the Kinsa thermometer. Signup with email address is required to use the Kinsa app's full features.

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Kinsa promises to not sell personal information. According to New York Times in 2018, Kinsa does share non-personal data for targeting ads. According to Kinsa's privacy principles, they 'Help companies direct their marketing to sicker areas.'

Kinsa may provide research institutions certain de-identified health data for research purposes to better predict and stop the spread of infectious disease.

If you opt-in to share IDENTIFIABLE health data with an organization, the data specified at opt-in (examples: temperature values, self check red/green status results) will be shared with the organization you have enrolled with. Users may verify and opt-out of sharing identifiable data with an organization at any time via the mobile app settings.

How can you control your data?

After 1 year of user inactivity, data is deleted. Users can also delete their usage data.

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

Average

No known incidents in the last 3 years.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

No

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Strong password

N/A

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

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

The AI does not make decisions for the users, according to Kinsa.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine


News

What's your local illness risk?
Kinsa
See your local illness risk within seconds. Is it COVID-19 or flu? Is it spreading rapidly or beginning to stabilize?
“Smart” thermometer identifies likely pandemic hotspots
Jeff Rowe
A higher-than-expected concentration of people with fevers is considered one of the leading indicators of infection with the COVID-19 virus, and the combination of a digital "smart" thermometer and a paired phone app is enabling one company to provide real-time insights into emerging infection hot spots.

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