During the previous decade, health trackers have turn into a considerable a part of our day by day lives. In 2021, international shipments of watches, wristbands and different wearables handed 530 million units. By gathering and analyzing data that may vary from geolocation to sleeping time, from calorie consumption to temper adjustments, these gadgets hold monitor of our progress and provide individualized suggestions by devoted apps.
There’s extra to the social and emotional aspect of it. Think a pinch of pleasant rivalry pushing us to compete with our buddies in day by day step depend — or how rewarding it feels to share our newest Strava-tracked run on our socials.
But as Web2 taught us, nothing comes with no value the place private knowledge is concerned. Being on the watch 24/7, your tracker is aware of all about you: from the place you reside to the precise hour you favor to hit the pillow, and rather more. How safe is the information we share with health apps, and the way can trendy applied sciences comparable to blockchain assist us management its publicity?
Fitness trackers: getting on the report
As wearables are, fairly actually, recording our each transfer, privateness issues are additionally rising. These are fueled by main hacks and leaks, such because the Pumpup leak in 2018, when particular person well being knowledge, bank card data and personal messages between customers have been uncovered, and the 2020 Kinomap leak, the place 42 million consumer information have been open to hacker attacks. It additionally occurred final yr, when a database containing over 61 million records — together with consumer names, start dates, weight and GPS logs of non-public journey — involving wearable know-how and health providers like FitBit and Apple’s HealthKit was left unsecured on-line.
There are just a few vulnerability factors to sharing your private knowledge with well being apps. One is, customers seldom notice how their private knowledge — together with names, addresses, ages, gender and extra — can be used. After all, how usually do you revise the phrases and circumstances earlier than you hit “agree”? This provides the builders a free hand when it comes to treating your knowledge, together with promoting it to advertising specialists.
Still, even the excessive integrity of the app creators doesn’t assure knowledge safety. With closed-source apps, you by no means know to what extent the code is susceptible to exploits and assaults. What are we to count on from impartial builders if even Apple’s health information get compromised?
The dangers of getting your knowledge bought to entrepreneurs or dropping it to leaks at hacks differ. At finest, it might get used to fine-tune focused promoting. At worst — for social engineering hacks and theft. Not to say all of us deserve our proper to privateness.
As the calls for for an moral strategy and new requirements in knowledge storage develop, blockchain options are rising to reform health as health finance — FitFi, in brief — and herald transparency.
Blockchain, FitFi and moral knowledge assortment
FitFi is a brand new trade rising out of the intersection of the worlds of health and blockchain. One of FitFi’s objectives is to switch the rules of moral knowledge assortment to health.
First, it ought to be clear to the tip consumer what sort of knowledge they’re sharing with the app and the way it’s used, and customers ought to have the ability to revoke permissions at any given time. Second is altering how the information is saved, comparable to encoding it and looking out into extra superior storage options than massive, centralized databases to decrease the possibilities of large leaks. And third is making use of new audit requirements, the place the purposes must endure an intensive code examine to keep away from vulnerabilities.
So, how precisely can blockchain be a treatment for privateness violations? As the database can’t be modified or modified, it permits for an incredible diploma of transparency and accountability. By selecting blockchain-based options, we will reclaim the correct to knowledge possession by monitoring who will get entry to our knowledge and modifying permissions at any time to stop private data misuse.
Another profit blockchain brings is the flexibility to make use of cryptography to encode database recordings. In this situation, ought to a leak occur, delicate knowledge will keep protected. And lastly, rising decentralized storage options give us an opportunity to step away from centralized cloud storage.
And lastly, the tradition of code audits remains to be growing throughout the area. Still, as the typical consumer is getting savvier, extra tasks will seemingly observe the demand for a excessive stage of knowledge safety and totally examine their code earlier than the app launch.
Quest for higher consciousness
As you’re studying this, chances are high that you’ve got your smartwatch on, or there’s a well being app operating within the background in your smartphone, recording your geolocation and retaining the step depend. The quantity of non-public knowledge that’s collected and saved by these apps is rising exponentially. It’s excessive time we assert extra management over it by exploring FitFi for the advantages it brings — to our well being and our privateness.