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I am trying to decide whether to keep this new fitness tracker that I bought for $70. Great deal - until I found out that I'm paying for it with my personal data.

How risky is is to share MAC address, android ID, IMEI, IMSI, MEID with advertisers?

Can they use it to spam your phone and skew ads and search results? Can health insurance companies use this information to identify and discriminate against me?

Is it worth the arguably $100 value for information that I can never take back without trashing my phone for a new one?

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  • It's difficult to know for sure though i'd be confident in substituting "may be" with "will", that's a lot of unique identifiers to track what you are doing. That's probably why you got a food deal. If you don't agree with the license you may be able to return for a refund, law varies by country. – iainpb Feb 2 '18 at 9:03
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This is typical tracking behavior for most types of Internet advertising. The information you mentioned (IMEI, MEID, etc) can be used to track various things, such as which apps you use on your phone, your geographical location, etc. Given that this is an android phone (apple can be even worse!), Google can link your phone activity to activity you do on other devices, such as your computer or maybe your tablet. It essentially is used to build a profile of who you are in order to target advertising toward you that you may have an interest in.

Chances are, they know you better than you know yourself.

  • I don't mind targeted advertising - in fact, I love it. I feel more understood and represented in pop culture. But can they ever link my data with information like my SSN, tax information, my health care records, or affect my credit? – TNP Feb 2 '18 at 16:12
  • @TNP The information they can obtain about you is really dependent upon what you give them. For example, if you do a Google search for "herpes treatment", then you're effectively telling them that you have herpes. Be aware of what information you're entering online and who can see it, and you won't have a problem - hopefully. – Gogeta70 Feb 2 '18 at 16:31
  • I mean, they'll know how many steps I take per day and how often I work out - and where I ride my bike in the streets... Can that info be sold to my health insurance company where they can use that information to discriminate against me and raise my rates? – TNP Feb 2 '18 at 16:50
  • @TNP In theory, it is possible. It depends on who is collecting that data and what their privacy policy is. I've never heard of this happening, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen... – Gogeta70 Feb 2 '18 at 17:20
  • @TNP If you keep your phone with you when riding, Google probably already knows all that anyway. – JAB Mar 4 '18 at 5:27

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