Abstract

Health data privacy has become increasingly pertinent as the Internet-of-Things (IoT), specifically, health-monitoring, wearable devices, has become more advanced. Today’s regulatory framework allows wearable device companies to self-regulate how data is collected and used, thus leaving consumer, health data at risk of possible mishandling or abuse. Consequently, this research sought to examine whether data privacy practices adopted by major wearable manufacturers align with consumer expectations about these devices and the data they collect. Both consumers’ understanding of health data privacy and the corresponding tech companies’ stance on protecting consumer privacy were evaluated by performing crowd-sourced surveys and a thematic analyses of current privacy policies. Results of the survey suggest that most consumers are unaware of the possible risks associated with collecting health data; and, this lack of informativeness has led to what appear to be a lack of concern for their health data. However, many consumers still express an interest in protecting their privacy, regardless if they fully comprehend the risks, and most participants (79.4%) believed there should be additional regulations placed on the wearable industry. As such, it is recommended that a widely-known, non-government body, such as IEEE, develop a three-tier data privacy certification that wearable companies may apply for, but not be forced to adhere to. In principle, the market demand for increased data privacy controls would drive companies to classify each of their products as bronze, silver or gold-certified, which corresponds to increasingly stringent data privacy and security regulation.

Publication Date

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Student Type

Graduate

Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Public Policy (CLA)

Advisor

Josephine Wolff

Advisor/Committee Member

Mehdi Mirakhorli

Advisor/Committee Member

Christopher Paetsch

Campus

RIT – Main Campus

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