Activity and social sport registration sites: another threat to privacy

aking advantage of the consumer whirlwind of Black Friday I bought the coolest heart rate monitor that I could afford from the brand I consider as the best in heart rate monitors, I did not compare prices, I did not read references, I did not even ask the friends who have it, I wanted a heart rate monitor period, I went to the website with the orange smile (amazon) and clicked.

I received it today and as a good technophile that I am, I was not able to keep it in the box for 5 minutes. I immediately connected it and charged it. Lunch time is approaching and I must go to the park to try it out.

Browsing on the manufacturer’s website I click on the “Explore” section and I see a lot of routes and I think: “that’s it, another web of challenges”.

It’s lunchtime, I put on my sport shoes and start my sloppy jog through the river park to the displeasure of those who expected to enjoy the views of the City of Arts and Sciences (Valencia), when I cannot take it anymore, I press the magic button that makes the heart rate monitor connect to my mobile and send the data to the cloud … I’ll check it at home.

The time comes, I connect, I begin to fiddle with more patience in all corners of the web, I see the activity, I despair, so I decide to go back to “Explore” and see if I find someone worse than me, 0 results, so I become a busybody to see what others are doing … and I find it, I find too much.

I do not know if it’s because of slackness or lack of knowledge, but I see that many users share their activities, including start and end times, photos where you can see, for example the bikes they ride, and even searching further I’m sure I’ll find information about how much they sleep, because of course, now it is fashionable to digitally control one’s sleep, and worst of all, starting and ending points of the activity, with an accuracy of just a few meters, that is, a thief, an everyday one, not a cyber-thief, can access your address, your computer and your habits.

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Many times we do not consider sports activity registration sites as social networks, nor do we worry if the information we upload is shared or with whom, or what privacy options it offers and that is a serious error. When choosing which applications to use we must also assess these aspects, not only how many of our friends use each. Perhaps what we should do is to also raise awareness of the risks, and privacy options, for example, the well-known “web of challenges” has an option entitled “Privacy zone” that hides a specific area from others, for example, your home, which the website of the manufacturer of heart rate monitors does not have.

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