By now, you have probably heard about Google’s acquisition of wearable fitness tracker company Fitbit for $ US 2.1 billion. The news has been the talk of the town ever since it broke out, and not without reason.
The Internet giant is struggling to make an impact on the Apple-dominated smartwatch market for years now, and the buyout will bolster its efforts in wearables.
However, is that the only thing Google gets out of the deal with Fitbit?
Not really! Here’s more...
According to analysts, the move is going to take Google a step further into the healthcare space by giving it access to the health data of around 28 million users. While Fitbit has clarified that user data won’t be used by Google for ads, many Fitbit wearers have complained about the acquisition (and rightly so) on social media.
Besides, Google already has a treasure trove of data on people, including but not limited to search history, YouTube viewing history, and location data. Not only this but also Google creates advertisement profiles of users, which is based on information like location, relationship status, gender, interests, age, income, possible weight, and career.
All of this, coupled with Fitbit’s health and wellness data, can paint a pretty accurate picture of a user’s entire day. Google has also echoed similar sentiments as Fitbit, reassuring that Fitbit’s data will not be used for search ads. However, whether or not that happens is up for debate.
We'll get to know soon enough!
Google, in an effort to diffuse the situation, stated that Fitbit users will be given the freedom to review, move, or delete their data as they please. However, that’s proved to be insufficient for those who are privacy conscious.
Veronica KB Olsen, a research associate at CERN, said she immediately requested the removal of her data after hearing news of the acquisition. Another Fitbit user, Jason Gannon, said he couldn’t trust Google with his data. He, therefore, destroyed his Alta and deleted his Fitbit account.
Even if health data won’t be used for advertising purposes as claimed by both parties, that still leaves an array of other information for Google to get their hands on. Some of it includes users' locations, profile photos, device info, usage logs, and friends' lists.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that Google made similar promises when it acquired Nest as well. At the time, it said and I quote:
“When you work with Nest and use Nest products, that data does not go into the greater Google or any of its other business units.”
As some expected, that didn’t happen. Google went on to integrate Nest with its Assistant home automation system and asked users to create Google Accounts in order to continue using their thermostats.
These concerns, along with Google's data and privacy issues in the not-so-distant past, has left many Fitbit users worried about the privacy of their data. It wouldn’t be surprising if more people follow suit and part their ways with Fitbit as the acquisition reached its completion earlier this year.
If the thought of Google having your health and wellness data is keeping you up at night, then your best bet is to drop your Fitbit in a drawer and close your account. To permanently delete your Fitbit account as well as your associated data, just follow these simple steps:
Delete Fitbit Account via App
Delete Fitbit Account via Website
Though Fitbit says your data will be deleted within a period of 30 days, it could take up to 90 days before all of it is gone.
The news of Google acquiring Fitbit has come as a shock to Fitbit users, most of whom are fearful about how their personal health data will be handled by Google. In fact, some are even threatening to buy an Apple Watch as a result of the buyout.
This goes to show that users are no longer in the dark when it comes to their personal privacy. In these modern times, our data has become the most prized of all commodities and it’s up to each and every one of us to take the necessary steps to protect it from misuse.