Wearable technology is gaining in popularity for many different uses and just like any other type of technology being adopted massively, wearables present privacy and security concerns.
Advantages aside, businesses should take a step back when it comes to privacy and security issues that inevitably arise when innovations are introduced. The following is an overview of these concerns and how businesses should handle them.
Popularity vs. Security
It’s a common story with new tech devices – the more popular they get, the more effort is put into finding vulnerabilities and gaining illicit access. This means that popularity and security will forever be intertwined in hip new tech devices, whatever form they take.
The more people use devices, the more of their data is out there for thieves to take as well. Of course, different types of devices will have different security concerns.
For example, any device that actively uses Bluetooth, such as smartwatches or Bluetooth headphones, shares similar security concerns. Aside from that, there are significant health concerns to using them, which can provide users more reason to turn them off.
Businesses will need to be careful moving forward to gather important data while still respecting the privacy of their employees and customers.
Employees do not like to be monitored constantly while on the job. This is understandable, and too much employee monitoring, which wearables facilitate more of, can be counterproductive. While it is important for managers to monitor employee performance, it is equally as important to treat employees like adults and not be constantly watching over their shoulders.
This can make introducing and using wearable tech at a company difficult – employees may push back against it. Using it to monitor employees too much can decrease morale and ultimately harm retention as employees leave to seek other employers who will treat them differently.
Employers must find a good balance between the two extremes by effectively and reasonably monitoring their employees’ performance without being too overbearing.
Special Data Privacy Concerns Surrounding Wearable Tech And Healthcare
Companies in the healthcare field have strict, particular data security standards they must adhere to. This is not only due to choice but because it is legally mandated. The sensitive nature of personal health information can make the implementation of wearable tech in this industry tricky in spite of how it is the industry seeing the greatest benefits from the use of this technology.
Personal medical data can be recorded and sent by wearing technology. This includes information about blood pressure, activity levels, blood sugar, diet, and more. These aren’t always optional devices such as Fitbits but sometimes devices people literally need to survive, such as pacemakers that doctors gather valuable data from.
This information helps doctors more closely monitor their patients’ vitals and activity and gives them the ability to provide much better care. However, healthcare professionals must be certain they have the proper permission to collect this data as well as the proper security measures in place so the data is not compromised.
Challenging Consumer Views On Data Privacy
Wearable tech is making consumers more acutely aware of data privacy concerns than ever before. This is likely because they are wearing it and thus consistently reminded of the amounts and kinds of data being collected and transmitted wirelessly.
These devices, even more than smartphones, may remind users of how much their data is shared. As more people, businesses, devices, and even animals become part of the Internet of things, these data privacy issues will become more noticeable to everyday people.
More Data Wearables Means More Privacy Concerns
As more and more devices have the ability to link up to the Internet, there are more ways for data to be breached and privacy to be violated. At one point, it was just computers that connected to the Internet.
Now a myriad of devices including smartphones, refrigerators, thermostats, and basically all wearable devices can present potential privacy concerns for their users.
The sheer amount of available, useful devices means that people and businesses do not just have one localized source that connects wirelessly to a wider network. Instead, they slowly add more and more of these devices into their lives and business operations until there are tens or even hundreds of ways data from all aspects of their work and personal lives could be at risk.
The solution, of course, is not to stop using these devices completely but rather to understand what kind of information is being collected by them and where it is being sent. Alternate solutions can then be sought, such as increased data security or usage only for certain purposes.
Anyone can leverage their right to opt-out of certain types of data collection if they are concerned about their privacy.
What Does The Future Hold For Wearables And Data Collection?
No one is quite sure what exactly the future will hold when it comes to wearables and data privacy. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that companies will continue to collect and rely on data in order to make important decisions about products, hiring, marketing, and other central business operations.
Technology will continue to get smaller, more compact, and more convenient for its users to access. All of these signs point to an increase in the use of wearable technology as time marches forward, especially when it comes to implants and wearable tech clothing.
Consumers and companies alike need to pay special attention to cybersecurity and their rights when it comes to data collection going forward.
It is undeniable that the use of wearable tech presents significant privacy and data security concerns. Companies and individuals need to take these risks into special consideration and come up with effective strategies to mitigate these issues when adopting these technologies.
Doing this will help ensure both people and their data are kept safe and remain at their most productive. With these concerns in mind and a solid plan to address them, individuals and corporations are free to enjoy all the advantages wearable technology has to offer.
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur, and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.