Recently, an Australian student publicized that Strava, a fitness app, had published online a Global Heat Map that â€œuses satellite information to map the locations and movements of subscribers to the companyâ€™s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity,â€ according to the Washington Post. Strava â€œallows millions of users to time and map their workouts and to post them online for friends to see, and it can track their movements at other times,â€ the New York Times reports.
The data, culled from Stravaâ€™s 27 million users (who own Fitbits and other wearable fitness devices), is not updated in real-time. Yet the map still raised privacy and security questions for Stravaâ€™s users.
A similar case in 2011 concerning wearable device Fitbit also raised privacy questions about searchable fitness data. There was an uproar over Fitbitâ€™s privacy settings when people who were logging their sexual activity as a form of exercise learned that the data was showing up in Google searches. And in 2014, Jawbone faced criticism after it published data about how many people wearing its fitness tracker woke up during an earthquake in Northern California. People questioned whether Jawboneâ€™s privacy and data-sharing policies had disclosed such use of their health data.
Fitness devices, including smartwatches, and mobile health or wellness apps are used by tens of millions of people worldwide. There are many such apps available in Appleâ€™s and Googleâ€™s app stores. The data gathered can reveal much personal information about individuals. In the case of Strava, you could track patterns of activity over the two yearsâ€™ worth of data. Read more »