I’m a big fan of deivces that help track activity, food intake and other health-related information. But it seems that there’s an unexpected side-effect. A Canadian court is looking at the data collected by a FitBit in a case involving a former personal trainer.
According to attorney Neda Shakoori from McManis and Faulkner
Wearables are yet another example of how technology may be a gold mine of potentially relevant [electronically stored information] for use in litigation. Take, for example, a personal injury case where a plaintiff is claiming the injuries he sustained in an automobile accident prevent him from participating in physical activities, such as running. Suppose further that the plaintiff has worn a fitness tracking device which has been recording every one of his five-mile runs during the past three months. The data generated by the plaintiff’s wearable device may be discovered in litigation and, as a result, completely discredit plaintiff’s case for damages resulting from the accident.
In other words, even though you might collect the data for one purpose, it might end up being used for entirely different, unanticipated purpose.
This is exactly the sort of scenario privacy advocates fear. When large volumes of data are collected for one purpose, there can be unintended or unexpected value that can be extracted.
In the case being debated in Canada, FitBit data is being used in a personal injury case. In this case, the data is being used to support the plaintiff’s assertion that her activity levels have been reduced as a result of injury. But what if employers try to access that data, as we mentioned recently?
Suffice to say, we live in interesting times where test cases such as this will establish the legal framework for who can access our personally generated data and how they can use it.