Be Aware of Trading in Blood Pressure!

With fitness bracelets and mobile apps some people allow voluntarily to keep track of sleep patterns, exercise, nutrition and stress. But since companies are dealing in those dates, the confidentiality of our biological data is placed under pressure. The upcoming revision of the data protection law will not give us enough protection. Therefore, a fundamental review of our privacy law is required.

Technology and people are becoming more intimately connected. Technology is everywhere and without realizing it is collecting information about us. Companies follow surf- and click behavior. Besides that, companies start collecting biological data due to the introduction of wearables such as bracelets and fitness apps. Biodata can be used to deduce sensitive information about our physical and mental health. For example, walking patterns can show early signs of dementia.

Many people find it interesting to collect biological data of themselves. The reason for this is that the data can give some useful insights, for example a bad sleeping pattern on days they eat just before they went to bed. More and more companies want to have biodata: research found that 20 popular health apps share data with more than 76 parties. Further, health insurers are experimenting with health apps. Those who live healthy can earn points to pay less premium. Those things happen now on a voluntary basis. But it is certainly conceivable that there will be more pressure on employees and insured people to keep their health data.

In the Netherlands, there is a kind of protection – the concept of ‘informed permission’, part of the Data Protection Act. However, in the digital world this concept loses meaning. For individuals it is not clear what exactly happens with their data.  For individuals to oversee it impracticable what happens to their data and what the consequences are. Data is traded in mini seconds through online auctions and enriched to detailed profiles. Consumers do not know what profiles they are assigned, neither what kind of products or services there will be offered to them of the basis of their data.

Trading in online data, the resulting information asymmetry and the effects of using data on individuals, ask for an adjustment of our fundamental right to privacy.

Do you agree that the government should take action to protect us from the data industry?, 2015, used on 19 October 2015



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