Google will begin requiring Fitbit wearable device users to migrate from their Fitbit accounts to Google accounts, a switch that could become mandatory by early 2025.
There have been concerns about user privacy and whether Google will have direct access to it, long before and after the $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit in January 2021. In an update to the Fitbit support page, that permission change could happen in a few years.
Currently, Fitbit devices use a Fitbit-specific account that is, for the most part, independent of the Google system. The exception is when users enable the option to share Fitbit data with various Google apps, which would otherwise be kept separate.
According to changes to the Fitbit support page discovered by The Register, Google will prompt users to sign in with a Google account starting in 2023. New users who sign up for an account or existing users who upgrade and want to access new features must use the Google account associated with their Fitbit.
Other users who keep their Fitbit account separate from their Google account can avoid doing so, but there is a time limit. “Support for Fitbit accounts will continue until at least early 2025,” the support page says, after which users will need a Google account.
The change is seen as a benefit to users, including “a single sign-in for Fitbit and other Google services, industry-leading account security, centralized privacy controls for Fitbit user data and more.”
While the move has raised concerns among industry observers, Google has pledged to handle the migrated data carefully as it uses user data to power its various products and services.
“Google will continue to protect the privacy of Fitbit customers and has made a number of binding commitments with global regulators, including confirming that Fitbit user health data will not be used for Google Ads,” the page states. “This data will be kept separate from Google Ads data.”
The commitments were made to ease concerns about regulators reviewing the Fitbit acquisition. The commitments, which last for a decade, call for technical separation of Fitbit user data, preventing the use of the data for Google Ads, guaranteeing user choice as it relates to granting access to the data, and other elements.