Fitness trackers are the new craze. You can walk into any gym and see that the majority of people have some type of device tracking their heart rate, the steps walked or calories burned. A Fitbit has recently made headlines here in Florida . Nina Risley, from St. Petersburg, traveled to Pennsylvania and was staying at her boss’ home when police say she called to report she was raped by an unknown intruder. According to the police report, officers obtained her Fitbit Surge device and “the Fitbit device showed that Nina was awake and walking around the entire night prior to the incident and did not go to bed as reported” Police believe the steps recorded on her device prove Nina was awake and staging the crime scene instead of being asleep and ripped out of bed like she claimed. She was later charged with making a false report and tampering with evidence.
There is another case in Canada where a personal injury lawyer in Canada is trying to have his client’s Fitbit data entered into evidence to show her activity level now is low for a person her age, in an effort to prove her injuries after getting into a motor vehicle accident . As one personal injury attorney who was interviewed for a news agency saw it, fitness trackers can capture every detail about how we spend our day and how our body performs along the way. That data could prove very valuable to police, attorneys, insurance companies and possibly others.
News4Jax out of Jacksonville interviewed St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan regarding the matter. “Everything that you do electronically leaves a small bread trail if you will,” He said his office hasn’t used a fitness tracker in a criminal investigation, yet. However, the agency’s forensics team already pulls clues from cell phones, computers and other electronics so he says wearable fitness trackers fit right in. “Obviously electronic devices and what they mean for criminal investigations is improving all the time and it certainly is an avenue that allows us to further prosecutions.” They also spoke to defense attorney Janet Johnson who says these cases spell out “liar beware”. “You better be telling the truth because this FitBit is going to blow your story,” Johnson says. Johnson expects fitness trackers to join the long list of legal debates involving technology litigated up the the highest levels, possibly even the Supreme Court one day. Asked if the American people be worried about their privacy,” Johnson responded: “The short answer is yes. We don’t have privacy.” It’s a legal and policy fight that’s just beginning, and where consumers end up in the battle is largely unknown. “If you are worried about your privacy and you can do without knowing how many steps you’ve walked, you may want to forego the FitBit,” Johnson said.
“We pledge to respect your privacy, to be transparent about our data practices, to keep your data safe, to never sell your personal data, to let you decide how your information is shared, and to only collect data that helps us improve our products and services.”
It’s likely we’ll see more Fitbits being trotted out in court in the future, as the wearable trend takes hold, and self-tracking leads to self-incrimination.