You know how you get presented with interests and location-based ads on social media and the internet at large. Now imagine if you had to see ads related to your personal health staring you in the face when surfing that site or going through your feed or timeline. Not very private anymore right?
It appears that might be happening soon as there is a chance that pharmaceutical companies and advertisers who are interested in data about your personal health will soon have access to it.
According to a report jointly published by the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and American University, there is virtually no privacy measure in place to protect consumer health data, and companies who need such data are aware and plan to take advantage of it.
The report first lists the advantage there is to having a connected-health system such as personalized health insurance policies and better emergency services but states the system can also be taken advantage of. It goes on to say that since a lot of the health monitoring devices we wear are already being integrated into a growing Big Data digital health and marketing ecosystem, which is focused on gathering and monetizing personal health data in order to influence consumer behavior. If the system is allowed to grow and evolve without privacy checks in place, the nature and extent of data collected will be unprecedented.
CDD wants actions to be carried out to protect consumer health data abuse. They are requesting for collaborative efforts to develop a comprehensive approach to health privacy and consumer protection, using:
- Clear, enforceable standards for both the collection and use of information;
- Formal processes for assessing the benefits and risks of data use; and
- Stronger regulation of direct-to-consumer marketing by pharmaceutical companies.
While a number of people might not realize it yet, maybe due to the fact that only a small percentage of the world’s population uses a health monitoring device compared to smartphones but the earlier these protective measures are there, the better for the whole lot of us.