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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Can Data from Physical Activity Tracker Devices and Apps Be Used in Court?

Fitness trackers created by Jawbone, Garmin and Fitbit provide an assortment of health benefits by allowing you to track and collect data about your physical activity. However, fitness trackers and other smartphone apps that track your physical activity have recently been in the news because of potential privacy concerns.

Though the intended goal of these trackers is to provide details about how you spend your day and how your body responds to physical activity, the collected data could potentially provide valuable information that could be used in court. In fact two recent cases in the news have involved the use of fitness tracker data as admissible evidence in court.

Activity Trackers & Court Cases

The great thing about fitness activity trackers is that they allow health-conscious consumers to easily access a snapshot of their daily physical activities. With a fitness tracker app you can review your steps per day, and the exact moments in time when your heart rate was at its peak. Most importantly, some of these trackers can even provide information about your location at a specific moment in time, which is where privacy concerns come into play. This is because recent court cases have revealed that the data derived from a Fitbit or other fitness tracker can be used as evidence in court.

In 2014, a 44-year-old woman was ordered to serve probation for two years, after data from her Fitbit Surge device revealed that she had fabricated a rape claim. The data collected from the woman’s Fitbit Surge revealed that despite reports to the contrary she made to the police, she had actually been awake and active the entire night leading up to the alleged incident, and she did not go to bed as she had reported to the police. Furthermore, in a Canadian personal injury suit, the plaintiff is presenting data from her Fitbit as evidence of how her life has been changed, and physical activity substantially decreased, because of injuries sustained in a car accident.

Though the use of smartphone tracker data in court cases is relatively new, recent cases and the law illustrate that the data derived from trackers can be used in court. Federal law indicates that the use of activity tracker data may hinge primarily on the question of consent. For example, the United States federal wiretap law makes it illegal to intercept electronic communications unless one of the parties has consented to the communication being intercepted. Presumably, this law covers fitness tracker devices and apps, which facilitate electronic communications covered under the law. Furthermore, in both of the court cases mentioned above, the parties provided consent to their Fitbit data being used. However, as of now there is no one federal law that explicitly governs the use of activity tracker data in court cases.

Contact The Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Though data collected from fitness activity trackers like Fitbit have already been used in court cases, you may have some questions about whether your fitness activity tracker data could be used in your personal injury suit. If this is the case, you should contact the personal injury attorneys here at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP in Long Island, New York, to discuss the legal support and solutions we can provide in your personal injury suit.

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