As news that Fitbit has held discussions with the White House to discuss how its devices and user data could be used for social distancing and coronavirus symptom trackers to help monitor public health;
Oliver Lockett, Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:
“If agreed, Fitbit’s deal with the US government would mean Fitbit collects even more personal data than it does already, giving Google access to the private health data of Fitbit’s 28 million users. Given this impending sale, governments must wake up to the data privacy implications when considering Fitbit as a potential provider of social distancing and symptom tracking technology.
“Even before COVID-19, there were protests over the data privacy implications of Google’s Fitbit takeover. Fitbit has claimed that users’ health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads, however, history tells us otherwise. WhatsApp’s U-turn on data sharing with parent company Facebook is a prime example of how the lure of monetising data for ad targeting can become too great for big tech companies.
“If a situation similar to this were allowed to happen with such sensitive and critical data, the blame would be placed squarely on governing bodies for not safeguarding data privacy.”