ICO sounds alarm over wearable tech privacy issues

Data protection body warns wearable tech users and device makers to be wary of falling foul of privacy regulations

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is calling on wearable tech users to ensure data collected by their devices is processed in line with the UK's data protection laws.

This week alone has seen details emerge about new smartwatch technology from LG and Android, as well as the UK release of Google Glass to developers and beta testers, as the wearable tech trend continues to gain momentum.

Advertisement - Article continues below

If you are using a wearable technology for your own use then you are unlikely to be breaching the Act.

In the midst of this, the ICO has published a blog post, reminding users of the technology to be wary of the privacy implications of using it, and the laws surrounding the sharing of data created by wearable devices.

Andrew Paterson, the data protection watchdog's senior technology officer, said it is imperative the way wearable tech devices collect, process and share information is in line with the requirements of the UK Data Protection Act.

"If you are using a wearable technology for your own use then you are unlikely to be breaching the Act. This is because the Act includes an exemption for the collection of personal information for domestic purposes," Paterson explained.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

For instance, if someone wears a devices that tracks health data that remains on the device, or is only viewable from a private computer, that is fine in the eyes of the Data Protection Act.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"But, if you were to one day decide that you'd like to start using this information for other purposes outside of your personal use, for example to support a local campaign or to start a business, then this exemption would no longer apply," he added.

Further complications may also emerge if the health tracking device above shares details of the jogging routes people have taken or publishes details of users' performance online to compare with others.

This type of data must be processed in line with the Data Protection Act, warns Paterson.

"This includes making sure that people are being informed about how their details are being collected and used, only collecting information that is relevant, adequate and not excessive and ensuring that any information that needs to be collected is kept securely and deleted once it is no longer required," he explained.

And it's not just the Data Protection Act wearable tech users and device makers risk falling foul of, as the CCTV Code of Practice also comes into play for tools that capture pictures and videos.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"The rise of wearable technology brings exciting new possibilities and is set to become widespread in the years ahead," he added.

"But organisations must not lose sight of the fact that wearables must still operate in compliance with the law and consumers' personal information must be looked after," Paterson concluded.

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/security/privacy/355048/government-may-trace-covid-19-patients-using-mobile-phone-data
privacy

UK government may trace COVID-19 patients using mobile phone data

20 Mar 2020
Visit/policy-legislation/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/354842/irish-data-regulator-racks-up
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Irish data regulator racks up GDPR cases against Big Tech

24 Feb 2020
Visit/technology/augmented-reality-ar/354708/google-glass-now-being-sold-directly-through-resellers
augmented reality (AR)

Google Glass now being sold directly through resellers

5 Feb 2020
Visit/data-insights/data-management/354423/eu-us-data-transfer-tools-used-by-facebook-ruled-legal
data management

EU-US data transfer tools used by Facebook ruled legal

19 Dec 2019

Most Popular

Visit/software/video-conferencing/355138/zoom-beaming-ios-user-data-to-facebook-for-targeted-ads
video conferencing

Zoom beams iOS user data to Facebook for targeted ads

27 Mar 2020
Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355118/hpe-warns-of-critical-bug-that-destroys-ssds-after-40000-hours
Server & storage

HPE warns of 'critical' bug that destroys SSDs after 40,000 hours

26 Mar 2020
Visit/software/355113/companies-offering-free-software-to-fight-covid-19
Software

These are the companies offering free software during the coronavirus crisis

25 Mar 2020
Visit/mobile/mobile-phones/355088/apple-lifts-iphone-purchase-restrictions
Mobile Phones

Apple lifts iPhone purchase restrictions

23 Mar 2020