Fitness Apps Are Telling Everyone About How Bad You Suck at Sports


It sounds like a great idea with no downside— a virtual coach that a person inspired to be fit (sigh, fine: “FITSPIRED PERSON”) can download onto their phone for very little cost that helps them keep track of workouts and progress over time. Everyone’s healthy! Everyone’s happy! Everyone’s organized! Except, as one might have predicted, the information fitness app users provide to their binary running buddies isn’t nearly as private as users may have hoped. In fact, running apps are selling the information you provide them to companies that might use that information to discriminate against you.

According to the Daily Mail, a new report on mobile app privacy found that the top 20 fitness apps sell user data to over 70 companies, including insurance providers.

The Evidon study found that information from MapMyRun, which allows joggers to record the length and pace of their running, is passed on to third parties.
Data was passed to 11 different firms, including advertising companies, some of which are subsidiaries of Google, and other digital analytics and tracking groups.

In other words, if you suddenly start seeing banner ads targeted to people who are “NOT EVEN FIT ENOUGH TO RUN A WHOLE MILE WITHOUT STOPPING” or “TERRIBLE AT GOAL SETTING,” or “PREPAY FOR THAT RASCAL SCOOTER YOU’LL NEED BY 2020!” go ahead and blame it on your dumb fitness app’s opaque Hamlet-length usage agreement.

That’s right — most of the data mining being done by apps is legal and spelled right out in the terms of use. You know, that thing you scroll by really fast without reading before clicking I ACCEPT because you’re just so pumped about fitness.

But it’s not just embarrassment fitness app users need to worry about; insurance companies with access to consumers’ workout data could theoretically use that data to set higher premiums, according to the Mail article. I mean, there’s no evidence that they have yet, but they might someday. Which is reason enough to record workouts the way I do— on a paper calendar, with pencil. By candlelight. In a barn on a ranch 10 miles from the nearest paved road, where no one will hear me complain about leg pain and then sell my complaint to an insurance company.

[Daily Mail]

[h/t BetaBeat]

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