Fitbit owners will need to use a Google account by 2025

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Google will start requiring owners of Fitbit wearable devices to migrate over from a Fitbit account to a Google account, with the switch potentially becoming mandatory by early 2025.




Long before and following the completion of the $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021, there have been concerns about user privacy and whether Google will have direct access to it. In an update to Fitbit's support pages, it seems that access could happen within a few years.

At the moment, Fitbit devices use a Fitbit-specific account, which is independent of Google's systems in most cases. The exception is when a user enables an option to share Fitbit data with Google's various apps, but otherwise it is held separately.

Under a change to the support page spotted by The Register, Google will start to prompt users to sign in with a Google account from 2023. New users signing up for an account or existing users upgrading and wanting access to new features will have to use a Google account linked to Fitbit.

Other users who keep their Fitbit accounts separate from Google can do so, but there's a time limit. "Support of Fitbit accounts will continue until at least early 2025," the support page reads, with a Google account required after that point.

The change is framed as a benefit for users, including "a single login for Fitbit and other Google services, industry-leading account security, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data, and more."

While the move will be concerning to industry observers, due to Google's use of user data to power its various products and services, there are assurances that Google will be handling the migrated data with care.

"Google will continue to protect Fitbit customers' privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators which include the confirmation that Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google Ads," the page states. "This data will be kept separate from Google Ads data."

The commitments were made to ease fears by regulators examining the Fitbit acquisition. The commitments, which last for ten years, require a technical separation of Fitbit user data, prevents the use of the data for Google Ads, guarantees user choice as it pertains to granting access to that data, and other elements.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,172member
    Stick with the Watch and screw Google!
    jahbladedewmeDogpersonappleinsideruserpsliceAlex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Back when they were interesting devices, I wanted to get a Fitbit, but their refusal to share my own health data with HealthKit, and instead keep it siloed for lock-in, was a deal breaker. Never looked back. 
    dewmetwokatmewAlex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    ` "Google will continue to protect Fitbit customers' privacy and has made a series of binding commitments with global regulators which include the confirmation that Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google Ads," the page states. "This data will be kept separate from Google Ads data." '

    Suuuuuure.

    For these companies that make money by selling information about you, there is no such thing as a "binding commitment".  Notice words like "permanent" or "perpetual" are never attached to "commitment".  "Binding" just means "until you're not paying attention anymore".
    DogpersontwokatmewStrangeDaysForumPostAlex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,398member
    Google: We’ll not use the data Nest devices gather, then they did.
    Google: We don’t scan GoogleDocs for data. Then they said they will never do it any more.
    Google: We won’t tie the data from Fitbit to our other services, now they are.

    There are just some companies that have lied SO MANY TIMES that they cannot ever be trusted again. 
    DogpersontwokatmewAlex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 14
    Google defines “permanent” as temporary. 
     He** I don’t even like responding to people’s gmails.
    Fecebook ethics
    appleinsideruserAlex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    Yeah, when people share Google docs with me, I use a fresh gmail account each time. Somewhat silos my data and reduces the tracking Google can do. Plus it pisses off the sharer of the doc and encourages them to share a different way.
    Alex_V
  • Reply 7 of 14
    People still buy and use Shitbits?
    chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    In about three years the same thing will happen to Roomba cleaners. We’ll have to have an Amazon account and as part of that we will be agreeing to allow them to use any and all information gathered by the device, including mapping, and photos. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 14
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,575member
    If I had a nickel for every time a FitBit owner told me they have to buy a new one because the one they bought a few months to a year or so ago “just died,” I’d have enough money to buy myself an Apple Watch Ultra! :lol: 
    Alex_VAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    In summary, (at the risk of stating the obvious): Google is an advertising company. They make money by building up a detailed profile of each us, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Then they charge companies who want to market to us. So when Google does this, releases that, or buys them, it’s important to understand their core business. Everything that they do is in furtherance of that aim. Facebook is the same. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,471member
    Alex_V said:
    In summary, (at the risk of stating the obvious): Google is an advertising company. They make money by building up a detailed profile of each us, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Then they charge companies who want to market to us. So when Google does this, releases that, or buys them, it’s important to understand their core business. Everything that they do is in furtherance of that aim. Facebook is the same. 
    At least in my case, and I suspect probably yours as well, the credit bureaus have a way more accurately depicted and "detailed profile of us the likes of which we've never seen before." ;)

    Google still thinks I'm a decade younger than I am, interested in snowboarding (seriously?), and gaming (no way no how). There's a few other inaccuracies too but those are the biggies. They obviously don't have an accurately detailed profile of me IMO. My credit bureau on the other hand regularly sells my VERY accurate profile for marketing purposes, knows what schools I attended and when, knows the name and address of every close family member, has my Social Security number, has access to a plethora of specific financial transaction information, where I bank, every credit card and loan I have and the accurate balance and payments, and even has a layout of my home, the number of stories, square footage, and where each room is located. Worse, I have zero control over what the credit bureaus collect and what they sell. At least with Google I can delete most of it, control the collection of much of it, and without a Google account they would not have a "detailed profile of me" anyway. I'd just get generic ads except for the remarketing done by a seller we deal with.

    Oh, and even if you have a Google account they aren't placing ads specific to YOU, Alex the person. You've in a basket of anonymized ID's, similar to the way Apple serves you targeted ads. Apple just doesn't (yet) have means to gather anywhere near the level of information that Google does, but the essence of how the targeted ad program is designed is the same. Baskets of anonymized ID's used for ad delivery.

    Just a note: Also like Apple, Google would like to remove third-party access to their advertising ID numbers but there's a lot of pushback from other players, including from some regulators. 
    https://www.reuters.com/technology/googles-browser-cookies-plan-anti-competitive-advertisers-tell-eu-2021-09-28/
    https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/16/22937297/android-privacy-sandbox-google-apple-facebook-ad-tracking

    Then of course there are separate medical databases, and also ones maintained by insurers including home/auto/health policies with personal details and state driver's license histories and claim records, where your private information is shared between them. 

    Food for thought. 

    I'm just not that afraid of anonymized ads. They aren't selling my data to others, unlike the data brokers. IMHO there are far worse players, and to Google's credit they are finally working towards less reliance on identifiable personal information, tho it took Apple's prodding to do so. 
    edited September 27 Alex1N
  • Reply 12 of 14
    So do you think Apple will offer a small form-factor fitness tracker / watch with 5-day battery life by 2025?  I would be sooo happy to ditch fitbit but the Apple Watch does not currently compete in this segment.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    gatorguy said:
    Alex_V said:
    In summary, (at the risk of stating the obvious): Google is an advertising company. Facebook is the same. 
    At least in my case, and I suspect probably yours as well, the credit bureaus have a way more accurately depicted and "detailed profile of us the likes of which we've never seen before." ;)
    [snip]
    I'm just not that afraid of anonymized ads. They aren't selling my data to others, unlike the data brokers. IMHO there are far worse players, and to Google's credit they are finally working towards less reliance on identifiable personal information, tho it took Apple's prodding to do so. 

    Whether your personal experience is true or not, it is still hearsay. I was merely stating the obvious. Credit is a massive industry in the US. Credit bureaus record people’s financial history to score their individual credit risks. They sell that info to (mostly) financial institutions but also others.

    Google and Facebook are advertising companies. They build a psychographic profile of us (values, interests, politics, lifestyle info) that is used in marketing segmentation. It may be anonymised, but Google is merely protecting its cash cow. Their clients want to know that Google will show their advertisements to the right eyeballs. And if Google did not aggregate and anonymise their data, other companies would take it. You wrote: “with Google I can delete most of it, control the collection of much of it.” NOTE the weasel words: ‘most’ and ‘much.’ Google gives me the appearance of control. Google will never abandon their gold mine of data that they have on me no matter what levers and controls they provide me with.

    Here is another example: Facebook knows everything that you do on their site. They make money selling us (aggregated and anonymised for the same reason as Google) as targets to advertisers. Facebook built other tools -- messages, calls etc. to compel users to stay longer. Yet, they still bought WhatsApp (messages, calls). Why? Because they want our telephone numbers. With our telephone numbers they can add knowledge of our supermarket purchases, clubs, memberships… everything for which we provide a tel number. Now Facebook has data on our activities in the real world, in addition to what they know about us from their website. And they simply purchase data that is on the open market (or buy the data aggregating companies) on medical history, credit rating etc. I’m glad that you’re “not that afraid of anonymized ads.” I don’t trust these companies because they are not transparent, we don’t know their methods and data. And they continue to obscure and disguise their activities with their fake pronouncements on “privacy.”
    ihatescreennameswatto_cobra
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