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Takes a Look at Wearable Technology in 2019

by | May 27, 2019 | MyTek Blog, Technology

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Wearable technology is a class of electronic devices that can be used on a person’s body, generally as clothing. Even though they have been used for some time with advanced functionalities, experts call for better regulation of wearable devices.

MyTek gives you the pros and cons of wearable technology and the current regulations in place in navigating its dangers.

Wearable Technology Has Both Pros and Cons

Wearable technology is trendy among consumers. They have been consistently getting good feedback. While the number of wearable devices stood at 525 million in 2016, it is expected to reach a whopping 1.1 billion by 2022. In the same year, you can expect the shipping of 167 million wristbands and smartwatches.

Even though consumers love wearable technology, it comes with certain data risks.

Data Risks Associated with Wearable Technology

Wearable devices have certain risks like accidental data leaks, inefficient update policies, and collection of personal data.

First, the risk of data leak was seen in the case of the Strava fitness application that revealed the location of confidential military bases. This data leak is due to the inherent data mapping feature of wearable technology.

Second, wearable devices are prone to DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. That means wearable devices can be hacked through an unsecured network, thereby compromising both the device and the user. This issue of DDoS attacks occurs because wearable devices are not frequently updated.

Thirdly, wearable devices also tend to collect personal data shared with an unknown third party. Anonymous data access can further put your devices at a security risk.

Regulating Wearable Technology

Wearable technology is subject to several legislations like The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA Act), and The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act).

Let’s understand the implications of these acts in detail.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act)

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act treats wearable devices as a low-risk general wellness product. These devices are defined as medical devices based on their end-use. Hence, the regulator does not have much power to impose restrictions on the use of wearable devices.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA Act)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act deals with individuals’ right to their health information. HIPAA doesn’t cover wearable technology in broader terms. Also, wearable manufacturers are not affected by the secondary use of health data. That means personal health information is not used for the direct delivery of healthcare. Since the wearable data comes from the consumer’s end, there is no secondary use of health data.

The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act)

The Federal Trade Commission can scrutinize companies that carry out deceptive practices, including failure to comply with a privacy policy. This act covers entities that manipulate the HIPAA act and decides how to act against them. The FTC can also take legal action against organizations that are not serious about consumer information, be it a violation of privacy rights or a failure to ensure the proper security measures.

The FTC has a clear stance on wearable technology. In 2017, the FTC reported that few companies discuss their cross-device tracking practices in their privacy policies. Cross-device tracking allows multiple devices to be associated with a single user by linking that user’s activities across each of these devices. Therefore, the FTC Act makes wearable manufacturing companies accountable for their actions.

Do you have any additional inputs regarding wearable technology? If so, let IT security firm MyTek know in the comments section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Tim Tiller, LMSW

 
Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.

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