The Danger of Wearable Devices and Harvested Personal Data

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Wearable devices can collect continuous data about their wearer, even without their knowledge, from sleep patterns to heart fitness. This makes them increasingly prominent in the discussion of policymakers trying to mitigate the risks inherent in tech companies storing and processing their citizens’ private data.

Furthermore, today’s smart wearable devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, gathering high-quality data from our brain activity, eye movements, and even our skin. Some devices that were previously only available to private research institutions are now purchasable to the public. Another concern regarding this field of technology is the integration of AI into such wearable devices to process their data in real time.

But what can be done with such data from our bodies? According to Interesting Engineering, body data from wearable devices could fundamentally change how we interact with computers and the internet. Many innovators are working on new ways to interact with technology that do not involve our hands in order to free them for other activities. One alternative uses the gaze of our eyes to point and hand gestures in mid-air to click, but this implies that these systems would be collecting nonstop data on the user’s body.

Nevertheless, another growing trend is designing the next wave of the internet around data decentralization, where users can have greater control over how their data is used, which could prevent the misuse of personal information.

One example is “Solid” by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners Lee – an open source initiative that lets people handle their data in personal web servers and choose which organizations can access it.

However, cementing these initiatives requires proactive legislation towards digital sovereignty, a person’s right to control their own digital data. This would guarantee an internet that actually takes privacy seriously.

Experts from The Conversation conclude that in the era of wearables and powerful AI systems, it is vital to take a decentralized approach to the internet in order to let people enjoy the benefits of these technological advances while continuing to own their data.