Google has bought Fitbit: how the data will be used

What changes with Google's acquisition of Fitbit and how the data collected by fitness trackers and scales will be used.

Google has bought Fitbit, among the leading companies fully dedicated to the world of fitness wearables. The purchase is now valid for all intents and purposes, after the long bureaucratic rigmarole required by U.S. market regulation regulations, necessary for transactions of this caliber.

The purchase, in fact, was made with a valuation for Fitbit equal to 2.1 billion dollars and now the company has become part of the Mountain View giant, bringing with it not a few concerns for the privacy of user data.

Born in 2007, Fitbit has always employed its know-how in the creation of wearables dedicated to the world of sports and fitness and smart and connected scales. With more than 120 million devices sold in over 100 countries, the company founded by James Park and Eric Friedman officially became part of the Google family just over a year after the Mountain View giant expressed interest in November 2019. If this can, at least in part, go to mean a step forward in terms of technological progress, particularly for Big G-branded devices, it has not failed to raise some doubts among users, especially in terms of security of personal data.

Fitbit, what are the user data collected by Google

With the acquisition of Fitbit, Google has secured access to some very important data of the millions of users who daily use the devices during sports activities but also at rest. Not only the number of daily steps or calories burned, but also detailed information about the state of health through monitoring heart activity, sleep or stress. This data can be cross-referenced, if the user also has a Fitbit scale, with weight and percentage of fat and lean mass. It's clear that if a company knows how much we weigh, how fat we are and how much we move it has an easy time guessing if we have (or might have) health problems. Even serious ones.

From data to advertising?

Many wondered, already from the moment negotiations opened, if this information was destined to become part of the advertising profile of Google users. Back in 2019, the issue had already created a stir, so much so that it triggered an investigation by the European Commission that resulted in a 10-year agreement, extendable for a further period of the same duration.

The doubt, legitimate, was that information about the state of health of the user could be transformed into advertising. And if a user is obese, the advertisement could be about anything from dietary supplements to slimming drugs to diet foods. Or, why not, the advertisement could also concern the junk food that the user already likes and that could do so much more harm to his health.

Google and users' privacy, how the data will be used

According to the agreement, Google will not be able to use Fitbit data for advertising purposes, unlike other data acquired through web browsing or the use of other types of devices while logged in with your Google account. Moreover, all the information that will be collected from the wearables will have to be stored separately from the user's advertising ID, just in light of the importance of this type of sensitive data.

In addition, to ensure market competition rather than strictly privacy issues, Google is required to allow Fitbit users API access to third-party services. This way, you will still be able to use your favorite apps for monitoring physical activity and health.

Although the agreement was created expressly to ensure compliance with privacy regulations in force on the territory of the European Community, these measures will be implemented globally. To confirm this was Rick Osterloh, Google Senior Vice President of Devices & Services.

Google and user privacy, the message of the CEO of Fitbit

To calm the spirits has also intervened James Park, CEO and founder of Fitbit, through a message on the official blog of the company. "The trust of our users will remain paramount, and we will continue to put data privacy and security first, giving you complete control over your data and full transparency on what we collect and why. Google," Park continued, "will continue to protect the privacy of Fitbit users and has made a number of binding commitments to global regulators, confirming that Fitbit users' health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads and will be kept separate from other Google user data.