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Sen. Schumer Asks FTC To Probe Use Of Data Collected By Fitness Technology

The Flex, an "electronic coach" device by Fitbit (Credit: Getty Images)

The Flex, an “electronic coach” device by Fitbit (Credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the use of personal fitness data gathered from bracelets and cell phone applications by the companies that sell them, saying it can be sold to advertisers or others without users’ knowledge or consent.

“Who would want someone to know all the places you’ve been to in the last three months as you wore your Fitbit,” Schumer told WCBS 880. “And the idea that it is perfectly legal for the owners of these devices to sell that information to third parties is something we must stop.”

The New York Democrat said there are no current federal protections against such privacy intrusions, the companies’ policies aren’t clear, and consumers should have the ability to opt out.

“While some would argue that the companies shouldn’t even be allowed to collect that data, it certainly becomes a problem when they can sell it,” Schumer said. “And simply giving the user the ability to opt out and say ‘I don’t want my data sold to a third party,’ seems to me to be reasonable.”

Many Americans have started wearing monitors or using mobile apps to count their steps, measure their activity levels and calculate calorie burn.

In a letter, Schumer asked the FTC to clarify that it’s a deceptive trade practice when a company fails to clearly tell customers when their identifiable data may be sold.

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