Why I lapsed my FitBit subscription

A year ago I bought a FitBit. I clipped it on, walked and ran with it for a few days, then bought a premium one year subscription for $50. My FitBit died so I bought a second one, one of those second generation ones. So that’s $250.

… and today I let it lapse.

You see, FitBit bills itself as a great, “Web 2.o”, agile company. Which, I guess, to some degree is true. Trim down the device, make it intuitive, create “trainers” that help achieve goals, give out badges (with Foursquare as a partner, no less), make people compete with each other. All good things. Wireless updating while I code? Yes, please.

But there’s the rub – everything you and I do and transmit to FitBit is there forever. Link your RunKeeper account, your Withings scale, or anything else, and that data goes there, too. Health data. Sensitive data. Data that can be deleted only if you are a non-paying subscriber or don’t care about losing money. Yes, that’s right – FitBit told me repeatedly that the only way to remove data from its system is to cancel my account.

There are many reasons I would want to do this as a paying customer. Reset my progress? Remove sensitive medical data I was not aware I would transmit? Here’s a funny story – friend of mine signed up for an account and started “friending” many of her RL friends on the site. Which exposed all of us to daily “sexual activity, moderate, 2h 11m” reports. Sure, she should have been more vigilant about her data, but alas, now she’s stuck with it being recorded and available. No way for her to remove those from the site.

FitBit collects sensitive, identifiable, health and medically relevant data. FitBit does not allow paying customers to manage this data, does not allow them to delete it partially, and requires a full cancellation and forfeiture of payments made to get rid of them. That’s not good. And as much as I have been asking, for the past 11 months, for a solution to this issue, as much have I been given the jerk-around by the company.

So today I am lapsing my account. $250 in the wind because a modern company, selling a modern device, for a modern problem, does not address the modern issues of health data in the networks. Shame on FitBit for not being more agile, here, and shame on me for giving a company money that does not comply with the simple demands of the 21st century.

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