Are You Being Monitored Right Now?
by 10isfan77 on February 10, 2015 - 4:01pm
With the significant improvement of technology in the past decades, modern day society has arrived at a point where wearable technology has been introduced to our everyday lives. Whether it is through glasses, shoes, watches, heart rate monitors, etc. the increasing amount of wearable technology poses a serious threat to our community. Particularly, in the United States of America, companies that manufacture these products, in addition to third parties, allow themselves to have access to your personal data and use it to their discretion. What this means is, every time you use your wearable device and it records data such as, how you sleep, how you workout, what your workout schedule is, i.e. all data recorded is available to the company manufacturing the product as well as the third parties associated to them.
This raises a serious question as to whether or not the users of these products have the right to refrain from letting companies collect their data and use it for their own benefit. What the manufacturing companies are doing by collecting users data, without the users consent, is infringing their freedom for privacy as well as Article 12 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attack upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. Without freedom of privacy, our society is thus placed in a world where their health is being monitored and everyday activities as well.
However, this new advancement in technology, despite allowing companies to be intrusive in our lives, does have some benefits. Notably, multi-national companies use the collected data to improve their products and analyse how the said product is being used. Doing so benefits the customer and allows him/her to adopt a better lifestyle and maintain a healthy condition. Now all that remains is to figure out how to create a harmonious system that benefits both parties? In other words, what is the best way to preserve the good of humanity, while allowing industries to continue in their technological progress?
In order to resolve the privacy issue with wearable technology we can approach the situation with the approach of a value pluralist. Value Pluralism is an ethical system, which understands that there are multiple values that can be correct and basic but conflict with each other. A possible solution would be to create an international law that prevents companies, such as Apple, Nike, etc. from having unrestricted access to the data their products collect and forces them to ask the consumers if they wish to share their data with them. In addition, that law could state that the companies are allowed to collect data, in an anonymous and random fashion, from their devices but only by the devices the users have approved. By doing so, the consumer’s privacy is unaltered, since companies don’t collect the data periodically and they have control over their data and companies will still receive the necessary amount of data to continue their progress.
Thus, this scenario, where consumers decide to share their data or not, would allow corporations to gather the necessary information to continue improving their products as well as increase their profits, in addition to providing the consumers with the privacy Article 12, from the Declaration of Human Rights, expects the world to possess. It is without doubt that if no action is done to protect an individual’s privacy, we will see a world where keeping a private life will be a concept of the past.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" UN News Center. UN.org. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.