Having overindulged a bit during the winter holidays, many of us are now trying to get into better shape for the new year. To assist in that goal, there are numerous fitness apps and wearable tech that can help motivate you and keep you accountable. But are you losing more than just a little bit of holiday weight by using them?
Some of these apps and devices are collecting a multitude of data on you: heart rate, sleep patterns, daily steps, location, age, gender, ethnicity, diet and weight. And while some people may believe that existing privacy laws protect all health data, these laws typically DO NOT apply to wearable tech and their accompanying apps. So before you download or buy something to help you along to your fitness goals, keep these few things in mind:
The “Creepy Factor”
Make your own assessment of an app’s creepiness or intrusiveness based on the personal information it asks for in order to use it. For example, what information are you putting into a personal profile that you might not want advertisers to have or to become public? Are you giving away information about a physical or mental condition that could have negative repercussions for you if it ends up with data brokers?
Assume Your App is Selling You Out
Especially with any free health and fitness apps, assume that any information you provide will be distributed to the app’s developer, third-party sites the app’s developer may use for functionality and other third-party marketers and advertisers. Only provide information you are comfortable with the app sharing. When you don’t know how the app is making money, they are usually making money on your data.
For maximum privacy, consider only using paid health and fitness apps and avoid ones that embed advertising or that seem focused on selling you products (you should still read their privacy policies to determine whether you are comfortable with them or not).
Done? Delete It
Once we’ve hit our goals, many of us will stop using the health and fitness apps that helped us along the way. To be on the safe side, if you’re not using it, delete it (you can always re-download it again later). Many of these apps offer the option to download your data to a separate file as well if you want to keep a record without needing the app installed.
Have a story about your fitness app or wearable tech experience? Share it with us.