Privacy for Wellness Wearables: Emerging Trends and Power Dynamics in a Grey Area
Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group)
Wellness wearables are playing a growing role in the lives of Canadians. Manufacturers of these devices and their associated apps are promising a future world of enhanced well-being by enabling users to keep track of and take action on their health and wellness goals.
However, wellness wearables are distinct from other emerging technologies in that they connect to the body directly, generating a high volume of health-related information. They are also of increasing interest to stakeholders beyond consumers and are being applied in contexts where there are power asymmetries and potential misuses. Employers have been incorporating wellness wearables into work, making monitoring more intrusive and continuous. Insurers have also been keen to leverage the real-time data these devices can generate about policy holders.
This report seeks to contribute to policy development by increasing understanding of privacy challenges and considerations for wellness wearables. It does so by focusing on three main areas of risk: information risks, consent risks and rights risks. These issues are then explored further through two use cases where the application of wellness wearables is growing and poses potential harms: workplace and insurance contexts.
The report also identifies several recommended action areas where government can implement interventions that address the privacy challenges of wellness wearables. Some recommendations target modernizing privacy protections for these devices and their applications in workplaces and insurance contexts. Others focus on helping businesses adopt best privacy practices and on enabling consumers to make privacy choices.
As part of this project, the research team also produced informational material for policy makers and the general public to make them aware of the risks and rights associated with privacy and wellness wearables.
Project deliverables are available in the following language(s)
- English (HTML document)
This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.
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