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    Opinion at Seattle Times: Fitness gadgets raise privacy concerns under new health insurance rules

    Brier Dudley, a technology columnist at the Seattle Times, discusses privacy concerns about fitness devices that gather data about individuals’ health:

    Outrage over NSA spying on Americans is nothing compared to how people may react to the upcoming collision with wearable computing, medical privacy and new insurance rules.

    You don’t need leaked documents to see it coming, though it took me awhile to connect the dots after seeing the bewildering array of new health and fitness-tracking gadgets shown at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show.

    The show was seen as a turning point for “wearables,” including watches, wristbands, headsets and other gadgets. The most popular wearables monitor physical activity and connect wirelessly to phones, which may then upload the data to online services. […]

    Not everyone wants to have a little computer on the wrist or head keeping track of what a wearer does around the clock. But I wonder if they won’t have much choice in the future, under new insurance laws that invite companies to scrutinize and monitor their employees’ health and fitness. […]

    A 2013 survey by Aon Hewitt consulting found that motivating employees to change health behaviors is a “significant focus” over the next three to five years at 69 percent of employers. […]

    I suggest regulators go a step further and issue privacy guidelines for wellness programs, health apps and wearable devices that may share data with insurers and employers.

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