Fitbit: Fascism on Your Wrist?

“Fitbit is working with Singapore’s government to supply residents with free fitness trackers.,” reports. “The company says Singaporeans will be able to pre-register next month to receive a Fitbit Inspire band for free if they commit to paying $10 a month for a year of the company’s premium coaching service.” The government? What’s that all about . . .

Singapore has a population of 5.6 million and has a unique universal healthcare system widely regarded as one of the best in the world. The city-state invariably ranks high in life expectancy ratings. But the population is aging and exhibiting fairly high rates of heart disease, prompting the government to seek additional solutions.

“We intend to work with industry innovators such as Fitbit on additional efforts to use technology to provide Singaporeans with personalized health advice and nudges, so that they can take control of their own health,” HPB CEO Zee Yoong Kang said in a statement.

So the Singapore government is acting in its citizens’ best interests to help them live a long, healthy life. By collecting data from “free” Fitbits. Automatically. Remotely. Assuming an opt-in, of course.

What could possibly go wrong? Can you say “pre-emptive surveillance”? The Singapore government can and does, constantly.

Online services and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Singapore are at the mercy of the government. Laws are so broadly phrased that the government can obtain access to sensitive data like text messages, e-mail, call logs, and web surfing history without court permission. 

And do.

Under the Sedition Act, anything deemed to “excite disaffection against the Singapore government” could be grounds for arrest. The law was recently wielded against political cartoonist Chew Peng Ee and a number of political dissidents in the past.

What are the odds that the Singapore government will use Fitbit to spy on its citizens, one way or another? One hundred percent. What are the odds that other repressive regimes like, say, The People’s Republic of China, will follow suit? Also one hundred percent.

And who, pray tell, will provide the technology to usher in Big Brother? Fitbit won the Singapore contract. They beat out Apple. As of 2015, the Boys From Cupertino sold over 1m Apple Watches in the PRC. That’s awesome for shareholders! Not a good sign for the future of human rights.

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