Is the data on wearable technology such as Fitbit bands protected by the law from intrusion? Perhaps yes and perhaps no. Questions about who owns the data stored on wearable technology cloud servers, what privacy standards apply to the data and whether health matters can be disclosed in legal proceedings have all yet to be decided.
However, if recent developments in privacy matters as they relate to national security issues are an indication of what is to come, it is likely that there is no absolute right to privacy for any of the data that is stored on wearable technology.
Information in the Cloud: The Case of Microsoft and Google
For years, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has successfully subpoenaed user data from tech giants, including Microsoft and Google. While the companies have attempted to resist revealing user data, they have failed in many instances. The companies have released data detailing the location, usage and information stored within user accounts to the tune of tens of thousands of users.
A coalition of technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are pushing for reforms in the way that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is applied and interpreted. Thus far, their efforts have not been successful.
Isnt Health Data Protected?
While medical and health data is usually protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), data from wearable technology is not covered.
Even if the data, stored by the manufacturers of wearable technology, is eventually covered under HIPPA regulations, legal disputes and law enforcement investigation exceptions in HIPPA could still expose the health data.
When companies such as Fitbit and others receive subpoenas asking them to reveal the records of wristband users, they may challenge the cases. The extent to which a manufacturer will protect the privacy rights of their users is still unclear.
It is likely that companies who can afford to challenge subpoenas and drag out cases will do so if it supports the companys bottom line. However, if the cost of litigation is perceived as to high, Fitbit band users and others may have few privacy rights over their own health data.
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At GWC Injury Lawyers, our civil litigation attorneys are preparing for a future where wearable technology will be used to prove or disprove legal claims.