University researchers concerned with wearable privacy

A paper from researchers at various universities suggests that privacy is an area that needs work for wearables, according to a report in The Register.

The paper, entitled ‘Privacy of Big Data in the Internet of Things Era‘ was written by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Australian National University, Sydney University, Dakota State University, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.  It examines the quantities of ‘highly sensitive’ personal information wearables collect in order to function as advertised – data collection that makes the likes of Facebook’s seem minimal by comparison.

“Google Glass, Apple iWatch, Google Fit, Apple Health Kit, and Apple Home Kit may collect very sensitive information about users, ranging from their health conditions to financial status by observing/recording daily activities,” the authors write in the paper.

The paper covers the privacy challenges faced by all stakeholders in wearables, from the manufacturers and app developers to the consumers themselves, and examines the responsibility of each party in ensuring privacy is maintained. Over its seven pages, it outlines some clear issues with wearables including user consent, free choice and anonymity. In the case of the latter, the researchers suggest that future platforms could consider using Tor or similar anonymizing platforms in order to keep user data safe and private.

“From the time the data is being captured by the sensors embedded in IoT solutions to the point where knowledge is extracted and raw data is be permanently and securely deleted, user privacy need to be protected and enforced,” writes the paper, concluding that only by addressing the wearable privacy issues highlighted, can Internet of Things devices and other wearables obtain and maintain consumer confidence.

Author , ESET

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