A recent report out of Mount Clemens, Michigan, describes how an FBI agent used data from a fitness tracker app to re-create the final steps of 14-year-old April Millsap took before she was brutally murdered. Agent Matthew Zentz, a digital analysis expert, testified that he extracted information from a Sports Tracker app on the teen’s cellphone and combine it with location information on Google Earth to create an animation showing the path April took while walking her dog along the Macomb Orchard Trail in July 2014. James VanCallis, 33, was charged in Millsap’s death.
In this situation, the tracking information was used for good, bringing a murderer to justice; however, recently there have been some security concerns about specialized fitness trackers, like Fitbit. One report at of Canada found that seven out of eight fitness tracking devices emit persistent unique identifiers that can expose the wearer to long-term tracking of her location when the device is not paired, and connected to mobile device. Data from a fitness device can provide the wrong people insights into the wearer’s life. Insurance companies, corporate wellness programs, and courts of law are interested and can use the information. If you are assigned an exercise program by your company for special benefits, think twice before you fudge on the number of steps you are taking. The major complaint among consumers of fitness devices is that they are not being told this information before buying the devices. So, buyer beware—big brother is watching you, or rather, counting your steps.
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