Google Buys Fitbit and its Data




Fitbit is one of the biggest smartwatch companies in the US with their main competitor being Apple and their line of watches. On November first, Fitbit was acquired by Google which means all the health data that Fitbit recorded, will belong to Google. Many users are uncomfortable with this merger because they fear Google will sell their health data to insurance companies or other companies. Jennifer Elias of CNBC wrote an article about Fitbit users getting rid of their devices in lieu of this merger. She wrote about how Fitbit was bought for $2.1 billion and backlash from users and privacy advocates, the concerns may possibly stop the acquisition. Elias wrote about how users were fine with Google buying Nest Labs and integrating Google to home assistants and security. Their concerns are now that Google has access to all the data from the cameras in people’s homes and whatever data is collected from Google Home and health data. Elias quoted from a Fitbit user, “I like your product and have enjoyed it many years, but I value my privacy much, much more. The aggregation of data possible makes me extremely uncomfortable” (Elias, 2019). Elias used multiple tweets from users about the discomfort they feel having their data moved to Google. Many users are now considering using Apple’s watches because they feel more comfortable that Apple won’t sell their data or send it to insurance companies.

I found this article interesting because of the rise of privacy. More and more people are becoming concerned about where their data is going and who has access to it. Facebook has been dealing with a lot of backlash from users demanding better privacy and various lawsuits. Google has also been paying violation fees for Europe when the EU changed their privacy policies. It could be dangerous for Google to have people’s health information because these large companies don’t always keep their promises on privacy and data use. If I had a Fitbit, I would probably get rid of my device as well. I’ve been weary about the smart watches because I never wanted a company to have the ability to track my movement throughout the day and track how I sleep. It made me uncomfortable because these companies aren’t always transparent about what they plan to do with my data and I wouldn’t want an insurer to be able to up-charge me because they somehow have access to my health records from my phone. I also found it interesting that users from this article are completely fine with Google being in their home and recording their property, but health data is where they draw the line. I agree that one company having all that data is dangerous because they can build a profile on you that knows more about you than you do. I wonder if this merger will go through or if users and privacy advocates can stop it.


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