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FitBit collects more about you than other fitness apps – report

FitBit collects the most information about its users, but when it comes to sharing data, BetterMe is the top contender, according to new research.

The top US fitness apps collect on average 15.2 points personal data points about their users, with exercise tracker FitBit coming on top with 21 data points, according to Incogni, a cybersecurity firm.

JustFit comes at the other end of the spectrum of the nine apps analyzed in the study, with just five data points collected about its users.

Frequently collected data includes things like user location, photos and videos, or a phone number. Some of that is needed for the apps to properly function, but some is shared with third parties such as advertisers.

Here, wellness platform BetterMe is the leader, sharing 17 data points with third parties, including photos, videos, and health and fitness information, according to Incogni.

Insurance companies, advertisers, and governmental bodies1 all have their uses for such information, and data brokers are only too happy to oblige. An app that tracks users’ eating and exercise habits, location, and more is a treasure trove of personal data,” the firm said.

Two fitness apps, Peloton and Yazio, share location data with third parties, while Yazio, along with three other apps, including BetterMe, share user ID for advertising or marketing purposes.

Seven out of nine apps studies collect users’ photos and videos, while five collect their precise location.

WeightWatchers, the weight health app, collects information on users’ race and ethnicity – although users can opt out from sharing this data. Meanwhile, Yazio collects information about users’ sexual orientation and it is not optional, according to Incogni.

“This means that, in order to use the app, users have to provide this information. It’s certainly difficult to make a case for knowing a user’s sexual orientation before providing dietary-tracking functionality,” researchers said in the blog post.

At 72.9%, the vast majority of data collected by these apps are non-optional, according to Incogni. All nine apps also collect the “vaguely defined” subcategory of personal information known only as “other info.”

“This virtual catch-all comprises ‘[a]ny other personal information such as date of birth, gender identity, veteran status, etc.’ The data points listed are concerning enough – what hides behind that ‘et cetera’ all the more so,” Incogni said.

On the bright side, researchers found that fitness apps do not share the data they collect with third parties as much as apps in other categories do, the firm noted.

It has selected the nine apps based on the revenue they make, and analyzed their data collection based on disclosures made on Google Play Store.

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