back to article Google: OK, OK, we pinky promise not to suck Fitbit health data into the borg. Now will you approve the sale?

Google has pinky-promised not to pull user health data from Fitbit devices into its monster ad empire if the European Union approves its planned $2.1bn acquisition. “This deal is about devices, not data,” the Chocolate Factory said in a statement this week. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with the European Commission on …

  1. Tubz

    You don't pay 70% premium on a share if you don't expect to get he money back. Google cannot be trusted, prove that time and again and should be broken up.

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Exactly, I would`t trust google with my mother-in-law.

      wait...

      no

      no, I really would not. Not even it. Er, her.

      I am unsure breaking google up would help, though. Many small googles will be harder to herd...

  2. Woodnag

    "Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads"

    Thanks. That's just one tiny opportunity in the sea of ways to monetise the data.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads"

      Exactly. Google wants in on the healthcare market and is just buying a huge number of guinea pigs who are willingly providing valuable and detailed data over their cardiovascular system and location. It's not as if Fitbit had a restrictive data policy.

  3. Sammy Smalls

    A shame

    I liked my Fitbit and I found the service very good. The moment a Google came sniffing, I ditched the device and service.

    No service is perfect or can be trusted but when you’ve got Google’s form, you’d better be happy having your bowel movements as public knowledge.

    I did get some comments saying I was using the Fitbit incorrectly. Hey ho.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: A shame

      When Google started opening the Fitbit door, the company "updated" their phone app to a horrible mess.

  4. doublelayer Silver badge

    We accept your conditions, just prove your honesty

    Dear Google. We are happy to tell you that we have accepted your conditions, namely that you guarantee that you have not, are not, and will never use data collected or entered on Fitbit devices for advertising purposes and that it will never be visible to any system which also stores data processed for advertising. We are now happy to approve your sale, but we require one final item. In order to prove that you are complying with your own conditions, we will need to see and audit both of the following systems: A) the code run on Fitbits and any remote system with which they interact (recursively), and B) the systems and data on which you base your advertising decisions. These audits will need to be ongoing while your company continues to produce wearable products or software which interacts with wearable products. If you decide not to comply, we will be required to deny your request to acquire. Please note that providing false information in this step is a violation of laws in every EU member state and punishable by prison terms for every manager and forfeiture of all financial resources. Also please note that information provided during this process may be used by data protection authorities. Congratulations on this approval for your proposed acquisition.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: We accept your conditions, just prove your honesty

      Advertising is a small problem.

      Insurance would be my concern, if I had such a device.

      1. NATTtrash Silver badge

        Re: We accept your conditions, just prove your honesty

        Insurance would be my concern, if I had such a device.

        Indeed. We all have seen the reports of Googles "insight" into peoples health status, behaviour, questions, and concerns. It's true that competitors are already "in the health market". Then again, Google has already shown (and shared TBH) its aspirations to exploit healthcare much, much further than just "counting steps". Especially in environments where healthcare is for sale (now or in the very near future) Googles strategists might be smirking excessively. After all, the only purpose of your health has, is for somebody else to make money with it...

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: We accept your conditions, just prove your honesty

          There are many, perhaps too many, cases of insurance payouts being refused because there is evidence of a pre-existing condition. Has anyone's search history ever been used to support such a decision?

  5. Keythong

    Buyouts generally incur damage despite promises

    The damage may not be noticed for a while, but eventually it becomes obvious e.g. I bet that Google will eventually either kill off support or coerce user migration to a google service which breaks the assurances of data privacy. I've seen customers face similar from the other side after takeover by a large USA corporation...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about the EU stipulate that any device that has your personal data can be used as a standalone device and that data can be downloaded to your PC only.

    For some reason, everyone thinks that any company (device) has the right to hold your data on their servers, as long as it adheres to GDPR.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      But customers already willingly agreed to Fitbit's T&Cs when they bought whatever tracking device.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have a Garmin device, and the only method they openly publish uses online uploading of your data. There is a program to download direct to the PC, but Garmin don't provide this application anymore, and you have to use third party hosts to locate the application - can be a problem.

        Have you tried to locate a device where you can store the data locally only ?

        I have searched and this information is near non-existent to locate. No review i have seen so far claims that you can store data locally only. In effect, nearly every device you want to use for health stores online and people don't have any choice.

        1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

          As far as I can tell, anything that uses "Very Fit Pro" can be connected to your phone and store data locally there, nowhere else. It's not the best app but as far as I've been able to tell so far it isn't doing any data slurping that I know of.

          That said, I now feel I must run WireShark or similar and check that that is right.

          /edit: its mobile data use since I bought the phone is 0.2KB, make of that what you will.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Yes, see my previous posts. I'm not a fitness freak so I only have digital scales from Soehnle that work fine without an internet connection and I think that's true of their other products.

          GDPR mandates privacy by default and privacy by design but most customers prefer shiny over secure.

  7. DS999

    Clearly a lie

    Google doesn't care about devices, except as a way to gather more data.

  8. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Devil

    Ther is a fable - 'The Scorpion and the Frog' that comes to mind strangely.

    1. this

      'Truly have the sages said that to cherish a base character is to give one's honor to the wind, and to involve one's own self in embarrassment'

  9. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Meh

    This is why I have never bought a FitBit, nor any wearable device that even requires me to create an online account to use it.

    I'm sorry but the cloudiest the server gets for my smartwatch is going to be my phone.

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