• Rose Smith

Busted by FitBit: Wearable Technology as Evidence

Jogger with Fitbit

Photo Source: PxHere

With technology on our cellphones or FitBit, we have the ability to use analytics to track things like our location, our heart rates, and even whether or not we got in our target amount of steps for the day. While it certainly helps us stay motivated to make healthier choices, the fact that you are tracking your activity means that other people can too. That information can then be used to catch people in the act of things they shouldn’t be doing.

In some cases, FitBits can catch people in the act of infidelity. According to NFL Network correspondent Jane Slater, she received a FitBit for Christmas (USA Today). They got a shared FitBit app so they could see each other’s health activity and motivate each other to exercise more. This seemed perfectly fine on its own, until she noticed that there was heightened activity according to the FitBit at 4AM. In her words, “Spoiler alert: he was not enrolled in an OrangeTheory class at 4AM.” Beforehand, she was debating calling the police because he had been unaccounted for all night. FitBits have a built-in heart rate monitor, and while it does help you monitor your heart rate during fitness activities, it can also pick up heart rate from activities that aren’t as fitness-related. When Slater put this on her twitter, other people joined in about their stories of learning about their partners’ infidelity with FitBit information.

FitBits can also help the police solve crimes. In one case in 2015, a murder case in Connecticut was solved using internet history and a FitBit (CNN News). According to the husband’s testimony, during a home invasion the husband was bound and tortured, and the wife was murdered. The husband then was able to escape, fight off the attacker, and contact emergency services. However, once police began to fully investigate, the husband’s testimony began to stop adding up. First of all, during the time at which the murder would have already happened, the wife was still alive. According to her browsing history, she had been on Facebook. Then, according to her FitBit there was movement before it stopped cold at a time stamp after the death was supposed to happen. Upon closer investigation, the husband had been having an affair with another woman and was looking to take the wife’s life insurance money. Using FitBit, the police were able to get the real story of what actually happened. In another case in 2018, police were able to solve a murder (The Verge). In a man’s accounts, he claimed that he had dropped his stepdaughter off at her house before she was murdered. However, his alibi didn’t hold up after police got security cam footage and FitBit information, revealing that he was the actual murderer.

While FitBits are mostly used for fitness monitoring and motivation, they can also be great for catching people in the act. In some cases, it can help tell if someone is being unfaithful. In other cases, it can help solve a murder or crack a faulty alibi by lining up the FitBit information with testimony. This also shows how much information we’re storing away whenever we use technology like FitBit, and the kind of privacy we have (or don’t have) when we use it. While it certainly helps investigators solve crimes, it also makes your private life not as private.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.