A large number of users of wearable device maker Fitbit began to abandon Fitbit’s health monitoring device after learning that Fitbit had become Google’s latest acquisition. On November 1st Google said it would buy Fitbit for $2.1bn in a bid to boost its hardware business in health. Google has made it clear in its trading announcement that it will not sell personal or health data for Fitbit users. Despite such assurances, some Fitbit users said they did not trust Google and were abandoning the Fitbit product altogether.
Carpenter told CNBC that he doesn’t believe google’s customer privacy assurances, “I’m not only worried about what Google can do with this data now, but I’m also worried about what Google’s artificial intelligence can do with it in 10 or 20 years.” Their purpose is not to advertise, so what exactly do they want to do? They can’t spend money without using it in some way.”
The trend to abandon Fitbit devices reflects in one way that Google is facing questions from the public and regulators about its privacy protections. Google has paid data privacy fines in the European Union and has recently made a big step into the heavily regulated healthcare industry, prompting the public to rethink the seemingly harmless wearable health devices. Privacy groups this week began urging regulators to block the acquisition of Fitbit, which Google had hoped to complete by early 2020.
Some key users said they were now considering Fitbit’s main rival, the Apple Watch, while others were looking to use low-tech health monitoring tracking devices.
Some users, aware of Google’s partnership with health giant Asuncions, said they were glad they had made the decision to give up their Fitbit device, noting that “Google knows what drugs I’m taking and what kind of medical diagnostic information I have”, “which makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Google did not respond to a request for comment.