Wearable Technology and its Legal Implications

Wearable Technology and its Legal Implications

A recent Computer Weekly article suggests that the mass use of wearable technology is reaching the workplace environment, most notably smartwatches, activity trackers, medical sensors, lifeloggers, and smart glasses. This is raising privacy issues for employers across the nation and the globe. Because employees have the potential of taking surreptitious photos or videos of coworkers or proprietary information and possibly using it later in a lawsuit, employers are growing increasingly concerned, according to the article. As the years go by and wearable technology gets more sophisticated, these products will find more uses in people’s daily lives.


Employers’ Real Concerns

Research by Gartner looking at purchasing trends for this niche area of the market predicted it will explode in just three years from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $5 billion. Consequently, employers will likely have to start drafting policies and procedures addressing these innovations, including taking appropriate precautions to comply with privacy laws. Beyond individual privacy issues, there may be concern for maintaining the safety of intellectual property at work sites. Finally, the likelihood of data breaches if sensitive information is displayed on these devices can also create major liability for companies. On the other hand, some industries can appropriately make use of wearable technology such as law enforcement, firefighters, or other first responders.


Legal Issues Raised

Part of the question is whether the data held in wearable technological devices is considered “personal data” within the legal definition. According to an October 2014 declaration by the International Privacy Conference, data obtained from the Internet should be regarded as such. The reasoning behind this is, according to an Information Age (IA) feature on this topic, is that the conclusions drawn from the information processed by wearable technology are more likely individualized to the data than just general inferences, the subject of the data is both identifiable and personal by its inherent nature, and the information is more than likely to be sensitive. One of the major issues of concern addressed in IA’s feature was notice and consent for obtaining the information; this concern is not only for the person wearing the device, but for third parties as well.


Seek Out Legal Help

Both the law and the technology is changing regarding this topic. Consequently, it is important to contact a seasoned privacy rights and/or intellectual property attorney right away if you have any questions or concerns regarding wearable technology in your business or your personal life.

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