Commentary

Advocates Call For New Privacy Standards For Wearables

Consumer advocates are calling for new regulations for mobile health apps and wearables that can collect health related information.

"Privacy, security, and consumer-protection policies for the connected-health market should be held to a much higher standard than those established for most other areas of the digital marketplace," advocates say in the new 66-page report, "Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era."

The report, written by American University's Kathryn Montgomery and the Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester and Katharina Kopp, calls for a host of new privacy rules. Among others, the authors propose that companies obtain consumers' affirmative consent before collecting or using data collected from health wearables.

"Because of their capacity to collect and use large amounts of personal data -- and, in particular, sensitive health data -- this new generation of digital tools brings with it a host of privacy, security, and other risks," they write."

"Biosensors will routinely be able to capture not only an individual's heart rate, but

also brain activity, moods, and emotions. These data can, in turn, be combined with personal information from other sources -- including health-care providers and drug companies -- raising such potential harms as discriminatory profiling, manipulative marketing, and data breaches."

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