Fitbit’s Google Acquisition Sparks Privacy Concerns For Some


Google‘s recent announcement that it is buying Fitbit is leading some users to ditch the device.

“I’m not only afraid of what they can do with the data currently, but what they can do with it once their AI advances in 10 or 20 years,” former user Mike Carpenter told CNBC. “Health insurance companies would love to get their hands on that data and their purposes wouldn’t be advertising, so is that what they are going to do with it? They didn’t spend the money to not utilize it in some way.”

On November 1, Google revealed that it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The company said it will work with Fitbit’s experts to develop top artificial intelligence (AI), software and hardware to advance wearables technology to benefit people around the world.

But since the announcement, wearers like Carpenter have been threatening to abandon their Fitbit devices out of fear that their data won’t be safe. In fact, privacy groups have been pushing regulators to block the acquisition.

“I only recently got it and now I’m thinking I don’t need Google watching literally my every step or my every heart beat,” said Fitbit owner Dan Kleinman.

A big concern is Google’s 2014 acquisition of Nest Labs, as well its partnership with health giant Ascension. Last week it was reported that Google has been collecting and using millions of people’s healthcare data without informing them with help from Ascension.

“Google could know which medications I take, and what medical diagnoses I have,” Carpenter said. “It makes me feel sick to my stomach.”

“I use a lot of Google services and think they do a decent job, but I’m not interested in adding my health data to their systems,” added Fredrik Matheson who has stopped using his Charge 3. “The moment my wife — who is not in tech — heard Google had agreed to acquire Fitbit, she asked me to figure out which watch she should replace her Fitbit with.”

Some users are planning to make the switch to Fitbit’s biggest rival, the Apple Watch.

“This may push me to pay for an Apple Watch, and jettison my current Fitbit (assuming I even still want a thing strapped to my wrist collecting data about me),” tweeted author Stephen Anderson. “Can we just bring back Pebble?”