With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for users of wearable sensors.
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Have you noticed people watching their wrist while doing sport? Perhaps, like an increasing number of people, you enjoy using mobile and wearable devices to track your fitness by measuring your athletic performance, calculate the calories you burn, your sleep, or stress level.
Wearable devices are used for different purposes including healthcare (e.g. to monitor heartbeat or the level of insulin in diabetic patients and provide tailored treatments). Relying on built-in sensors that recognise human features and the environment they can combine large amounts of data. Europe is the second largest market for wearable sensors and the EU has funded several projects on wearable computing.
However, as the use of ‘wearables’ like smart clothes and watches grows, the risks related to monitoring and sharing of personal data also increases. Wearables process and share personal data (including location data or internet address) with other connected devices, raising concerns about data protection and other rights. About 50 % of people in the EU say they are worried about the recording of everyday activities via phone or mobile applications.
The EU makes sure that privacy and data protection rules adapt to new technologies to protect your rights. From May 2018, a new European framework strengthens these rights, including getting easy-to-understand information about how your data is used; having several options to give consent (browser privacy settings); and having your data deleted. The new rules should include analytical data gathered from apps and data emitted by terminals, like wifi.
- EPRS publication ‘Reform of the e-Privacy directive’, 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2017/608661/EPRS_BRI(2017)608661_EN.pdf
- EPRS publication on fundamental rights implications of big data, 2017, https://epthinktank.eu/2017/03/10/fundamental-rights-implications-of-big-data-plenary-podcast/
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice and Consumers, data protection website https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection_en