Fitness Wristband Makers Face Complaints for Violating Privacy Policies

January 3, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. vague / veɪg / (adj.) – describing something that has an unclear meaning
Example: I still do not know what happened because he only gives me vague responses.

2. monitor / ˈmɒn ɪ tər / (v.) – to watch the condition of someone or something very closely
Example: The doctor used a device to monitor his heartbeat.

3. disclose / dɪˈskloʊz / (v.) – to let everyone know about something
Example: We cannot disclose anything about the new computer before its official launch.

4. exploit / ɪkˈsplɔɪt / (v.) – to take advantage of a person or a situation
Example: The syndicate is exploiting young girls for profit.

5. party / ˈpɑr ti / (n.) – a person or group involved in a particular activity or event
Example: The buyer and the seller are the only parties involved in the transaction.


Read the text below.
Four fitness wristband makers are facing a formal complaint for allegedly violating European privacy laws.

The Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC), an organization that advocates consumer rights, filed a complaint against Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, and Mio for giving vague terms and conditions on their data collecting apps.

A fitness wristband is a device used for monitoring a person’s fitness activities and health. To serve its purpose, the device uses an app to collect personal data and health-related measurements, such as calorie intake, heartbeat, and distance walked. In line with this, NCC’s digital services director said that users should be aware of how wristband makers use their personal data.

However, after analyzing the terms and conditions of the four companies, NCC found that they do not disclose how their users' information is being used, or how long such information is kept.

In addition, the council also said that the companies do not inform their customers about who else sees the information. The NCC fears that the information may be exploited and shared to commercial organizations for direct marketing, which is a strategy wherein a seller contacts a person directly through call or e-mail to offer products and services.

In response, Fitbit said that it does not sell its users’ personal data to other parties. The company also said that its policies are written in clear and simple language to allow their users to fully understand how their data will be used. Jawbone also responded to NCC’s allegations by saying that it shares data only if the users permitted the company to do so.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, what should the companies do to show customers that they are not violating privacy laws?
·         How can the government ensure the safety of consumers’ personal data?

Discussion B

·         What should a person look for in a company before entrusting them with personal data? Discuss.
·         What types of companies should handle consumers’ data with great care? Why?

January 3, 2017