Can We Trust Google With Our Health & Wellness Data?

Google announced back in November that they entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Fitbit for $7.35 per share in cash, valuing the company at an equity value of approximately $2.1 billion. That is half of the company’s value during its IPO in 2015.

Google creates tools that help people enhance their knowledge, success, health, and happiness. These goals align so closely with Fitbit’s long-time focus on wellness and helping people live healthier, more active lives. The acquisition of these two companies seems like a win-win for everyone. But where does this leave the security of our personal data? And even more curious, what is going to happen to all the health and wellness data that is being produced daily by it’s 29.75 million users worldwide?

In Google We Trust???

Privacy concerns are a big issue with large companies these days. From the 2017 Equifax data breach that affected a whopping 147.7 million Americans to a record-setting number of data breaches in 2019 that covers everything from Facebook and Instagram credentials being exposed to millions of medical patient records in Open databases to Captial One exposing credit card applications, social security numbers, and bank account numbers.

But with the seemingly Pac-man like style that Google is acquiring Fitbit, how are we to know that the data that is being collected from our wearable devices is truly safe? Well to be blunt, we don’t. We have to monitor what we are allowing to be collected from our devices and be mindful that there is a very good chance that we may have that data leaked in a data breach at some point.

When Google announced the acquisition of Fitbit at the end of 2019 they stated that “privacy and security are paramount” and that “they will never sell your information to anyone”. Well I’m sure that will be buried deep inside of their Terms & Conditions that none of us ever read.

The bigger concern here is what is going to happen with all of the health and wellness information that is produced by our wearable devices? Fitbit has recently dropped its new Fitbit Charge 4 that now includes a built-in GPS and NFC payments via Fitbit Pay, which I’m sure will eventually be rolled into Google Pay. So now they are collecting where I exercise along with where I make purchases, my heart rate, body temperature, and even my SpO2 while I’m sleeping. As stated in Google’s release, they will not use the health and wellness data for Google Ads. Right, so the first time I see a Smoothie King or GNC ad on my phone after a workout at my gym I’ll know that this trust has also been breached.

Runners competing in a race and tracking their data. ~Stencil

We will have to wait and see how this ends up playing out as consumers of these technological marvels where all of our health, wellness, location, and spending data is being held by one of the largest tech giants of our time. Will this trust also be broken? 

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