FOX13 Investigates: Who is tracking your Fitbit?

by: Darcy Thomas Updated:

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Millions use Fitbits every day to keep track of their steps, sleep patterns or overall health. FOX13 learned your personal data on the tracking device may not be as private as you’d like.

Fitbits looks very similar to bracelets, and analysts expect more than 200 million people will be using the wearable devices by 2019. As soon as you put it on your wrist and start moving, it starts tracking you.

"Many of our technologies have unintended consequences and that may be one for the Fitbit,” Anna Whalley with Shelby County Crime Victim Services told FOX13.

Devices like the Fitbit are being used to help people stay on track. You're private information is stored, but you're not the only one with access.

"Our goal is to get to the truth and see that justice is done and let the chips fall where they may. And sometimes, technology can help with," Shelby County prosecutor Tom Henderson told FOX13.

It's that information that can help you get or stay healthy, but it can also hurt you in some cases.

FOX13 looked into a recent criminal case involving a Florida woman who was staying at her boss’s house in Pennsylvania. She told police someone broke into the house while she was sleeping and sexually assaulted her. Police questioned this woman's story, and took her Fitbit as evidence.

"The Fitbit was not developed to be a tool to decide guilt or innocence in anything. It's being used beyond what it was designed to do," Whalley said.

In that case, police determined the activity data on the Fitbit, along with other pieces of evidence, didn't match the story the woman was telling.

"Technology is playing a part in more and more cases just because it’s more prevalent and people are more use to it," Henderson said.

Henderson told FOX13 25 years ago DNA was hard to come by. Now, more attorneys are using technology to help investigations, whether it's a FITBIT, GPS, cellphones or a police body camera footage.

"I think technology is helping us and that's an advantage. Anything that helps us get to the truth is an advantage," Henderson said.

Using the woman's Fitbit data, police proved the woman had walked a thousand steps after supposedly going to bed and before she called police.

In addition, investigators found no physical evidence of a break-in. All of the doors and windows were locked and there were no footprints located.

"It's doing what it's intended to do. It’s keeping records. It's keeping information and information is evidence," Henderson said.

In this case, the woman was charged with filing a false police report and tampering with evidence.

FOX13 looked into Fitbit's security policy. It promises to keep a customer's data safe, and never sell it. However, it also clearly states the company will share data if it is needed to comply with a subpoena or warrant.

FOX13 also learned the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has used several pieces of technology to help convict a person. But so far, a Fitbit has never been used to their knowledge.

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