As Gina Neff writes in Wired, “Today’s smartphones increasingly resemble the handheld medical scanners of a science-fiction future. But as our always-on devices transform medicine, we need to look to the past as well, ensuring that technology companies abide by the 2,000-year-old-dictum that binds doctors: first, do no harm.”
Unlike our health information that’s collected by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, our digital health data can be stored by tech companies with basically no protection for us, the consumer. “Virtually no policies, laws or procedures protect user privacy or guarantee users access to this information,” Neff writes.
“This presents two parallel challenges: we need to protect data from those who want to hurt us, and to access data ourselves when we need it,” she writes. “All of these issues have the same principle at stake: people whose bodies generate health data should have power over how it is used.”
One problem is that smartphones and tech services are so handy, we gladly sign away our rights to use these services, many of which are free. But would you want your insurance to go up because a tech company sold one of your medical secrets without your knowledge?