I've been thinking a lot lately about wearable technology and how the true value of many of today's wearables lies in data collection and the subsequent analysis and correlation of that information. The idea couldn't have been clearer at last month's Wearable Tech Expo in New York City, where Pebble's Chief Product Evangelist, Myriam Joire told attendees of her keynote address:
"You need to trust the tech world right now and give us your data. If you want intelligent context, you need to give us your data...Privacy and security are super important, but we also need to start to trust our technology."
I spoke with a lot of smart people at that show, and listened to even more, but Joire's quote stands out.
Why should I trust Pebble?
To be blunt, I don't trust Pebble as far as I can toss Joire. That said, I'm not a Pebble user. But I am a Google Glass Explorer and a regular Fitbit and RunKeeper user. Honestly, I don't really "trust" any of those companies either, but I give them access to my personal data all the time. Until, yesterday, I hadn't even read any of their privacy policies, which aim to detail what exactly these companies do with your personal information -- and how they protect it.
I'm currently working on a story about wearable technology and the privacy implications of handing over more and more personal data to the companies that make devices and offer related services. One concept that keeps coming up in my research is the (somewhat obvious) idea that wearable-technology users need to be vigilant and skeptical of the companies they "do business with," i.e., share personal data with.
Makes sense, right? But the fact of the matter is that most people aren't vigilant, and they aren't skeptical. I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of people don't read app or service privacy policies before handing over email addresses, user names passwords, location data, biometrics and other potentially risky data. So they have no idea what's actually happening to their data. They also often connect their core services to other random apps to share their progress and stats, which only compounds the problem.
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