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Popular pet tracking devices bring with them privacy issues for the owner

pet tracker device privacy concerns for owner

Pet tracking devices (also known as pet wearables) are small devices used to track the physical activity and health of dogs and cats. They normally contain either an accelerometer or a GPS sensor onboard and also have some form of communication back to an app on the pet owner's smartphone.

Some example products are - Garmin DeltaSmart, FitBark, TabCat, PawTrack, WonderWoof.

University researchers from Bristol, UK and Haifa, Israel have conducted a survey on 19 market leading pet trackers and concluded that they all gather far more data about the owner than the pet. In most cases, the data about the owner comes directly from their smartphone, on which they have installed a pet tracker app which connects to the pet tracker. The pet tracker app has access to a range of data from the smartphone, including precise GPS location.

The personally identifiable information is in all cases stored by the manufacturers in the cloud somewhere. The data may also be onsold to third parties, such as health insurance or pet insurance companies.

Its generally unclear what happens to your private data after its been collected. This is because the manufacturers downplay their devices' ability to be used to personally identify the pet owner. Instead, the manufacturers prefer to focus on the data gathered about the pet, for which most people don't immediately care about the privacy implications.

Research Article PDF Download:
Buddy's Wearable Is Not Your Buddy: Privacy Implications of Pet Wearables
Dirk van der Linden, et al. University of Bristol, U.K. and University of Haifa, Israel.

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