Is Your Fitness Tracker Sharing Your Vital Statistics?


I’m out here in Vancouver. I just took a run and it reminded me of a question that someone asked me in one of my speeches this morning, which is: Are those fitness tracking devices sacrificing our privacy? I’m going to tell you whether or not they are and how to stop it if you hang on for just a second.

I’m John Sileo and this is Sileo on Security. The great rage right now is fitness or health tracking devices, the Fitbits, the Garmins, even the Apple watches that we wear to track everything that we do.  It could be the mileage we go, the steps we take, the elevation we gain, our pulse, our heartbeat. Are we in good shape or bad shape? It tracks that data and syncs it from the device to an app on our phone or on our computer and then it aggregates that data.

The big question that people have is:   Is this being tracked? Is this incredibly vital health information being sold to other companies? Is it being sold to insurance companies who want to know if I’m healthy or not and may want to raise or lower my rates based on that. Is it being sold to marketers who want to know if I’m overweight or underweight, or if I like fitness of a certain type?  These devices track intensely personal stuff, so you’ve got to know what you’re doing. I want you to look at three different factors.

Number one: the hardware. It’s different if you have a Garmin or a Fitbit or an Apple Watch. They all have different policies on how they share information. You need to know by device.

Next, you need to take a look at the apps that are collecting the data. Are you using the Fitbit app that comes along natively with the Fitbit device?  Because that is different than if you’re using an app all by itself that you got on the App Store. You need to go through and read that privacy and data policy for the specific app to see how they’re sharing your intimate information.

Third, you need to consider not syncing that device to an actual app. Just track it on the device.  Then it never gets back into the cloud and never gets back to those companies at all. It’s certainly not as functional, but it is one option.

Here’s your One Minute Mission. I want you to Google the name of your device (“Fitbit”, for example) and enter the words “privacy policy” or “security” and I want you to research what others are saying about it in any current article. The reason is that these companies change their privacy and security policies all the time. They start with really good privacy policies and then they migrate to something less and less private.

Listen, I love these devices. I love the fact that they keep us fit and healthy. I love that they keep us competing with our friends and family to have a healthy lifestyle, but you can’t operate them without knowing what you’re doing, without knowing what information you’re giving away. Take a few minutes to take these steps and then go out and get healthy and use these devices. For Sileo on Security, I’ll see you on the next episode.