Using Fitbit Data In Court Is Just a Bad Idea

Illustration for article titled Using Fitbit Data In Court Is Just a Bad Idea

Lawyers for a woman trying to win a personal injury claim are going to use her Fitbit data in court to try to prove that she has not been active. This is incredibly stupid.


Forbes reports the case of a personal trainer trying to prove that injuries sustained in car accident kept her from being as active as she was before. As evidence to back up the claim, lawyers want to submit an analysis of her Fitbit data that shows she is far less active than a young personal trainer should be. It's the first time health data from the fitness tracker has been used in court, and is bound to send up red flags for privacy advocates; while the company says it has no plans to sell users' personal data, it would be forced to hand it over to a court.

As the Forbes report points out, personal injury claims are frequently subject to a lot of fraud and that they are notoriously hard to prove one way or another. A brief exam from a doctor, for example, might reveal that the patient indeed was less active. And it's not hard to see how if you pay a doctor, they're probably going to conclude that there's indeed something wrong with you.

The flaws of the current system aside, using Fitbit data is not the answer. It's very silly. First of all, the general reliability of a Fitbit as anything more than a casual lifestyle gadget hasn't been proven. It's not a medical device—it's a fun gadget.

But maybe more importantly, if you're worried about fraud, Fitbit is insanely easy to spoof if you want to. Wanna prove that you haven't been active? Don't use the Fitbit for a couple of hours. Wanna prove more activity? Wave it around a bunch or tie it to your dog.

Beyond this case,though, Forbes explores the question of whether Fitibit data might be used more broadly. For example, lawyers in criminal case might try to get your Fitbit records from the company. For all the reasons I just explained, this is a terrible idea.

Fitbits are great tools for encouraging a healthy lifestyle in yourself. But using it in court? Take a hike. [Forbes]




Given that a ride in a bus with bad suspension recently added about 20,000 steps to my Fitbit day, I would tend to agree with you.