Putting AI into Fitness Trackers Dangerous for Privacy of Health DataGadgets & Mobiles

January 04, 2019 17:44
Putting AI into Fitness Trackers Dangerous for Privacy of Health Data

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Do you integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) into devices like activity trackers, smartphones, and smart watches? In that case, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher Anil Aswani revealed that doing the aforesaid is dangerous for the privacy of people's health data.

The study by Aswani, the Assistant Professor at the University of California, argues over the lack of current regulations to protect people's confidential health-related information.

According to the study, opting for AI makes it possible to identify individuals by learning patterns in their day-to-day data collected by devices such as activity trackers, smart watches, and smartphones, and further comparing those patterns with demographic data.

Aswani further clarifies that the problem is not with devices collecting the information about users but with how the information collected by those devices can be ill-used and may be sold on the open market.

Aswani says the results indicate a major problem because even if the data is erased, it is possible to put it back together with the right set of information available at one's disposal. To explain it further, he gave a hypothetical example of how Facebook could collect their user's step data using the app on their smartphone and match it with health care data bought from another company and in some cases, gain monetary benefits.

"I'm not saying we should abandon these devices. But we need to be very careful about how we are using this data. We need to protect the information. If we can do that, it's a net positive.

"There are companies buying health data. It's supposed to be anonymous data, but their whole business model is to find a way to attach names to this data and sell it," said Aswani.

-Sowmya Sangam

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