Norway’s consumer watchdog has criticized most of the popular fitness wearable makers for having obscure and asymmetrical terms and conditions that impinge on Europeans’ consumer and privacy rights. It has claimed that users have little control over the data gathered by activity wristbands and thus registered a formal complaint with Norway’s data protection authority about the privacy policies of four fitness wristband companies-Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone and Mio.
In an analysis of the privacy policies and T&Cs of the wearable makers, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) found reasons to be critical about the various trade-offs all require consumers to sign up to in order to use their services. NCC has said that the makers have broken local laws governing the handling of consumer data.
“The wristbands are useful tools for monitoring and motivating fitness activities. Simultaneously we are giving up personal information about our health, activities, and location under asymmetrical and obscure terms,” said Finn Myrstad, director of digital services in the Consumer Council, in a statement.
The terms and conditions and privacy policies of the four company’s products do not state who sees the data and how long it would be kept. Their T&Cs also state that they won’t give proper notice about changes in their terms. The council examined the products of Fitbit Charge HR, Garmin VivoSmart HR, Mio Fuse, and Jawbone UP3.
Apart from privacy principles, this information can also be exploited for direct marketing and price discrimination purposes, added Myrstad.
The complaint came out of a research project carried out by the council. The Council says it intends to file a joint complaint against all four companies with the national DPA and the Consumer Ombudsman for breaching the European Data Protection Directive and the Unfair Contract Terms Directive.
Jawbone has reviewed the NCC report and has said in a statement that the company does not share the data with any third party till they are asked to do so by the user.
The report also noted that while Fitbit and Mio use easily understandable language, Garmin and Jawbone have terms of services that are quite difficult to parse for the average consumer.
Jawbone has assured that request to delete the data will be honoured by the company.