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Privacy Activist Schrems Files Complaints Against Google-Owned Fitbit | News Fission

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On Thursday, August 31, the advocacy group Noyb (None Of Your Business) filed complaints against Google-owned Fitbit in the Netherlands, Italy, and Austria.

The group alleged that the fitness tracking firm violates the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy regime.

The famous privacy activist Max Schrems founded Noyb, a digital rights group based in Vienna. The group has filed hundreds of complaints against giant tech entities like Alphabet Inc. and Meta in the past for privacy violations. A majority of the cases resulted in big fines for the companies.

Fitbit Alleged of Violating Privacy Law

According to Noyb’s complaints, Fitbit mandates that customers consent to data transfers outside the EU. However, the firm violates GDPR’s standards as it doesn’t allow users to retrieve their consent at will.

Fitbit is a fitness-tracking company that sells watches to track users’ activities and monitor their heart rate and sleep. Its subscription service has a monthly starting price of $9.99.

Noyb’s data protection lawyer, Bernardo Armentano, reacted to the situation with Fitbit’s mode of operation.

 The attorney stated:

Given that the company collects the most sensitive health data, it’s astonishing that it doesn’t even try to explain its use of such data, as required by law.

Also, the filed documents demand that Fitbit should be forced to disclose all mandatory information regarding its users’ data transfers. Also, the firm should permit using its app without forcing customers to consent to such data transfers.

GDPR operates a more flexible system allowing users to withdraw their consent; the case differs for Fitbit. The fitness firm’s privacy policy mentions that users can only withdraw their consent by deleting their accounts. Such a process implies that the users will lose all their past recorded health and workout data on Fitbit’s app.

Users’ Privacy Violations and Penalties for Faulters

Cases of violating users’ privacy and consent are quite on the rise recently. The EU GDPR is one of the strongest global privacy and security laws. It outlines the processing and transfer guidelines of personal data for people in the EU.

Usually, a firm could pay up to 4% of its global annual revenue in fines for violating GDPR rules. Google recorded about $280 billion as its annual revenue in 2022. Meta (formerly Facebook) was penalised for violating EU GDPR law in May 2023, as The New York Times reported. 

The company was fined 1.2 billion euros (equivalent to $1.3 billion) in a ruling against the social media platform. Further, the ruling mandated Meta to cease transferring collected data from Facebook users in Europe to the US.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission announced the penalty on Meta. The fine stands out as one of the most consequential since the enactment of the EU GDPR. Earlier in the year, Meta was fined $400 million for forcing its customers to accept some targeted advertisements.

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