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Are data fears misplaced?

The news that Google has acquired Fitbit in a deal that valued the wearables company at $2.1bn, while welcomed by some industry watchers, has raised a number of concerns when it comes to how users’ intimate health details – whether that is the number of steps they take each day to breathing patterns – might be exploited by the tech giant.

Fitbit currently tracks the health data of over 28 million users worldwide and the company has stated that user data would not be sold or used for Google advertising, pointing to the company’s strong privacy and security guidelines that have been in place since the company’s launch.

Despite that, many Fitbit wearers have been expressing their concerns – throwing away their Fitbits and deleting their accounts.

For many, there are real concerns that large tech companies like Google already have a vast amount of information on people – whether that’s location data, search histories, income or viewing habits – and they don’t need access to more.

Enough is enough, seems to have been the response of many who are determined to prevent Google grabbing their personal data.

Users in Europe benefit from GDPR which enables them to not only know what data is held on them but to have that data deleted.

Even if Fitbit’s claims that it will not be sharing health data with Google are true, a large number of individuals are uncomfortable with the news and despite Google itself saying that it won’t use Fitbit health data for advertising, many industry watchers have pointed out that it will have access to plenty of other sources of data.

Google says it is acquiring Fitbit to bring together “the best AI, software and hardware” in order to “spur innovation in wearables and build products to benefit even more people around the world.”

There’s a chance that this purchase might not be approved by regulators, especially at a time when the likes of Google and FACEBOOK have been coming under mounting scrutiny and criticism.

But while many users may be expressing their disquiet there are others who argue that there’s nothing wrong with massive tech companies having access to our daily health statistics.

While consumers should be concerned about privacy and security the mistakes made by both Google and FACEBOOK mean that the issues of privacy and security are now taking centre-stage.

And who better to securely manage that data than those tech giants with the resources, technologies and skills to secure it properly?

Author
Neil Tyler

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