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Report: Personal health data should be off-limits to common marketing practices
The authors -- who were instrumental in the creation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act -- call for governmental and industry safeguards.
Personal wearables that track health data can boost your exercise routine or monitor a medical condition.
The devices — including digital watches, sensor-equipped clothes, and apps in smartphones — can track heart rates, sleep patterns, calories, stress levels, and someday may store information on our DNA.
But, according to an extensive new report from the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and American University, their information shouldn’t be treated like ordinary marketing data.
The report, “Health Wearable Devices in the Big Data Era: Ensuring Privacy, Security, and Consumer Protection,” says that many common techniques for utilizing marketing data — including lookalike modeling, predictive analytics, scoring, programmatic advertising, and “buying and selling of individual consumers” — threaten consumer privacy in unprecedented ways when it comes to health data and status.
“Health data is personal information and should get higher standards” than other kinds of data, CDD executive director and report co-author Jeffrey Chester told me.
The report’s three authors — Kathyrn Montgomery, Chester, and Katharina Kopp — say they were behind the 1990s campaign that led to COPPA, the influential Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.