Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 19, 2014

Chuck Schumer’s FitBit Privacy Warning (Video)

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Schumer is concerned about privacy and FitBit step trackers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s newest privacy concern is about the popular FitBit.

The devices, which track steps and help users monitor other health-related information, are a potential privacy nightmare to the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate.

The New Yorker took his Sunday news conference routine to Central Park, calling on the Federal Trade Commission to enhance privacy rules by requiring a mandatory “opt-out” option for the sale of the data. Newsday said Schumer’s appearance came with joggers passing through the background.

“Privacy laws and protections from these devices’ developers have not caught up with the new technology,” Schumer said while waving a FitBit in the iconic park. “The FTC can propose such regulations easily. It’s within their power right now. We don’t need legislation or anything else.”

His office also issued a release outlining actions that Schumer would like to see taken by the FTC in response to devices such as FitBit.

“Personal fitness bracelets and the data they collect on your health, sleep, and location, should be just that — personal. The fact that private health data — rich enough to identify the user’s gait — is being gathered by applications like FitBit and can then be sold to third-parties without the user’s consent is a true privacy nightmare,” Schumer said in a statement. “If companies of fitness devices have the ability to sell personal health data to insurers, employers and others, users should be alerted and given the opportunity to decline.

FitBit said in a statement that the privacy policy in effect at the company already prevents the practice that Schumer expressed concern about, according to Newsday.

Video of Schumer’s appearance in Central Park from a report from WPIX-TV appears below:

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