Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #9

Do you have your wearable-generated data?  Can you even get it?  If you can get it can you use it?  Can you sell your own data?  Can you control who uses your data?  The answer to all of these questions?  no. No. NO.  NO! NO!!

This is the ninth post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #9:  The debate around ownership of wearables-generated data will continue.

Rachel Kalmar, Data Scientist at Misfit Wearables shared last August she has been wearing 10 different fitness trackers for months.  What does she have to say? “I can’t get my data!”  She makes the point of the value of time resolved data and this illustrates the point that wearable technology is creating data that not only do users not own, they cannot even access it!


Possession is nine-tenths of the law

Just in case you thought your data was yours, those privacy agreements take care of the final one-tenth of the law.   But, even though it seems like all hope is lost, the debate around ownership of wearables-generated data continues.  Here is look at some examples of things happening in this space

Value is the reason for the debate: Data is worth something

Is the Moves app really free?  Not if you value your data; your data is worth more than knowing how many steps you took (see prediction #1 for how Moves turns your phone into a wearable fitness tracker).  Moves was acquired by Facebook in April and then changed their privacy policy to enable data sharing with Facebook. Data can become insight, insight can trigger action, action that creates value and it is that value that companies are after, it is that value that made Moves an acquisition target in the first place and it is that value that some feel comes at the expense of their privacy.

The debate will continue and it may boil down to context vs privacy (more coming on context with the next prediction, see my thoughts on small town privacy here).  Wearable technology will generate more and more data.  All of it is worth something and when there is something worth fighting for in capitalistic free markets, expect a fight.

So goes Silicon Valley so goes Europe? 

Nope; at least not in the case of data privacy and ownership hence Europe’s right to be forgotten.

One European leader in this debate is the Qiy Foundation whose focus is on giving individuals control over their data, enabling them to share data with only those they trust.  I’m anxious to watch what will come from Qiy, particularly if the consortium can find a way that more value can be created when data is under the jurisdiction and ownership of the data generator.

The right to be forgotten is not necessarily the same thing as data ownership or privacy.  As will many well intentioned rules, it does create its own set of problems.  Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called the right “deeply immoral.”  How could something well intended be deeply immoral?  People are losing the right and ability to access information.

The Debate Continues

Here are some interesting reads regarding what is happening in the debate; this is not a comprehensive list and each is just one small part of the picture.  Enjoy these and dig in further on your own searches around privacy topics.  The short of it is the debate continues.

Facebook Data Privacy Class Action Joined By 11,000 And Counting

Google Spotted Explicit Images Of A Child In A Man’s Email And Tipped Off The Authorities

How Safe is your Quantified Self (white paper by Symantec)

Americans want a better privacy balance

A bag of chips can be used against you

Five Things Privacy Experts Want You to Know About Wearables

Some humorous makeshift ‘wearables’ that take a creative approach to protecting your privacy

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #10

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #8

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