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Smartwatch Companies Caught Spying

Smart watch and fitness tracker companies are allegedly not doing enough to protect their users’ privacy.

A Human Data Commons Foundation report has found brands could be breaching privacy laws in the way that data is collected and shared.

The ‘Quantified Self Report Card’ reviewed the terms and privacy policies of 18 leading manufacturers of smart watches and fitness trackers.

Legal rights, data collection and sharing, data access, and security were all categories that were investigated.

The Report Card highlights the “surprising” ways companies use people's smart watch and fitness tracker information.

Allegedly, many companies create marketing profiles of users by combining fitness data with information from social media and other sources.

Moreover, some have partnered with insurance companies to share this fitness data. Quite frighteningly, companies will even share information with police in criminal investigations.

Greg McMullen, co-author of the report, said: “There are many review sites comparing features and what it’s like to use the fitness trackers and smart watches these companies make. We think it’s just as important to look at how the companies use your data.”

According to the Report Card, Apple actually topped the list in first place. “Apple is trying to make privacy a competitive advantage, and that’s good for their users,” McMullen said.

Suunto and TomTom came in second, followed by Xiaomi, Huawei, and Withings.

Fitbit and Google’s Wear OS platform scored average results, and placed somewhere in the middle. The worst companies were Samsung and Moov, finishing at the bottom of the class.

Both companies were found to have “aggressive” data collection and sharing practices, and terms that limit users’ rights, the study claims.

The 2019 Report Card is the third annual report from the Human Data Commons Foundation, a Vancouver-based not-for-profit organisation.

At least when you wear a luxury mechanical wristwatch, your privacy isn't violated by large organisations.

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