What happens to a wearer's personal data when their fitness tracker manufacturer closes its doors or is acquired by someone else? That is a question that millions of Jawbone UP users asked after learning earlier this month that the company was liquidating following manufacturing issues, a legal battle with business competitor Fitbit and months of complaints regarding their customer service. Jawbone issued a statement saying it will delete or return such data at the customer's request. Doron, co-head of Katten's Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice, says this is "consistent with the type of messaging I think a lot of companies want to give customers, which is 'we respect your privacy.'"
But the burden is on the consumer to know the terms and conditions of a company's data security policy before clicking "accept." Being cautious about what is shared with tech companies, whether it is a social media site, wearable gadget or mobile app, is important. "If you want to order a taxi or get a cup of coffee," Doron continues, "it's much easier when the app knows where you are instead of having to type in an address. We give data for convenience and value." But there's a trade-off—and a risk—that those companies will then use that data for a purpose the customer didn't think about when signing up. (Read "You've Split From Your Fitness Tracker: Can You Get Your Data Back?," July 29, 2017.")