In a recent post at the U.S. Senate’s Newsroom website, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) informed constituents that “personal health and fitness data – so rich that an individual can be identified by their gait – is being gathered and stored by fitness bracelets like ‘FitBit’ and others like it, and can potentially be sold to third parties, like employers, insurance providers and other companies, without the users’ knowledge or consent.”
Schumer said he believes the situation “creates a privacy nightmare, given that these fitness trackers gather highly personal information on steps per day, sleep patterns, calories burned, and GPS locations. Users often input private health information like blood pressure, weight, and more.”
Because there are currently no federal protections to prevent health app developers from selling data they collect to third parties without consumer consent, Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to push for fitness device and app companies to provide a clear and advertised opportunities to “opt-out” before any personal health data is provided to third parties “who could discriminate against the user based on that sensitive and private health information.”
In the post, it was noted that “Many Americans have started wearing fitness trackers and bracelets, like Fitbit, to monitor and improve their health, and Schumer believes the technology is a positive and effective way to promote healthier and more active living. However, Schumer highlighted that there are insufficient federal protections in place to ensure that information submitted to and collected by these fitness trackers remains personal and private.”
The entire text of Schumer’s comments and concerns can be read here.