Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Samsung Galaxy Watch4
Review date: Nov. 8, 2021
This stylish, smart fitness watch watches you a lot. It will track your heart with an ECG to see if you have signs of Atrial Fibrillation. It monitors the amount of oxygen in your blood. It can even monitor to see if you've fallen and can't get up. All that plus a built-in running coach, Samsung Pay, and all the standard tracking of sleep, stress, steps, calories and more. Just beware, Samsung may share or sell personal information like your gender or location data to data brokers unless you go through the tricky process to opt out. This adds a whole new meaning to their slogan, "A watch that's watching out for you."
What could happen if something goes wrong?
This device tracks your location, heart rate, sleep patterns, stress and more. That's a lot of personal information gathered in one place. And not gonna lie, it sure seems Samsung likes to collect a lot of personal data on users, share (and possibly sell) that data around lots of places, and make it hard for you to figure out how to opt-out of that data sharing. And while Samsung doesn't seem to sell your healthy data they collect from this watch, they do say they can combine this with other you provide or they collect to send you personalized content. This likely isn't terrible, however, it is a lot of very personal health data they are using.
Your dogged privacy researcher spent quite a lot of time on Samsung’s website trying to understand how to opt-out under their “Do Not Sell” option as part of California’s privacy law called CCPA. It was clunky and complicated and she was never quite clear if she succeeded or not. Samsung does extend the rights that protect users under CCPA to all of the United States, which is good. And Samsung users in Europe are protected by their privacy protection law, GDPR, to a degree.
What could go wrong? Well, Samsung likes to show ads tailored to you through various ad networks, and say they do a lot of tracking of your online activities to do so. That means it's possible you could have crazy insomnia and sleep terribly for a couple months, which your Galaxy Watch knows. Samsung could then target you content about how to sleep better, which just stresses you out and makes you sleep worse. OK, this is probably not likely. But it’s also not impossible.
Tips to protect yourself
- Be very careful who you chose to share your wellness data with.
- Don't connect your app to any social networks like Facebook.
- Set up a security lock
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, date of birth, gender
Heart rate, movement, sleep data, stress, menstrual cycle, voice, and more
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?
In February, 2020, Samsung had a data breach on it UK customer account pages, affecting less than 150 people.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Uses encryption in transit and at rest.
Samsung has a bug bounty program. https://security.samsungmobile.com/rewardsProgram.smsb
If a user uses Bixby, a Samsung-specific AI-assistant, or Google Assistant.
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Voice recognition, if a user uses Bixby, a Samsung-specific AI-assistant, or Google Assistant.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
Knowing your privacy rightsSamsung
Samsung cops to data leak after unsolicited '1/1' Find my Mobile push notificationThe Register
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