Who Owns Your Body Data?
Have you read the news about how the Facebook data of 50 million users was breached during the 2016 election? If you weren’t concerned about your data before, we believe you should be now.
Even more important than your typical personal and demographic information is your body and health data. And this data is being harvested as much as any other data. Here’s our question for you...
Do you own your body data?
We think you should.
Here’s the problem
Tech companies are not subject to the same regulations that healthcare companies are. Health apps don’t have to comply with HIPAA restrictions, so they have free reign over your body data to share it for profit. For many tech companies, you are the product - they sell your data to analytic firms, marketing companies and more to make a profit.
And that’s not good for you - first of all, if anyone should be getting paid for your body data, it’s you. You are the owner of it. But most of the time these sales happen without your knowledge.
Secondly, your body data in the hands of the wrong person can be detrimental to your career and life options and possibly even dangerous.
For instance, if you are using a fertility app to get pregnant and are keeping your intention private, this information could be breached and outside parties, such as your employer, may find out about it. There may be potential for this when you use a fertility app that collects your data and sells it.
Or perhaps you are struggling with mental illness and use a meditation app. If your employer or potential employer gets his or her hands on that information and chooses to fire or not hire you because of the information, that is not good.
There are many more examples - data about STIs, disabilities, diseases. These are your data. No one should be sharing it or selling it without your knowledge.
What does it look like when you own your body data?
When you own your body data, you are in charge of who sees it. Each time your data is shared or sold, you are notified and you have a say in the matter.
To take charge of your data, read the privacy policies of the apps you use. While everything is couched in legalese, sifting through the policy will help you see what an app does with your data.
Another thing to ask yourself: How does this app make its money? Facebook, for instance, is totally free, but you can’t be a multi-billion dollar company with no means of revenue. So where does Facebook make its money? From you. You are their product. They sell your information to marketers and analytic firms who use your data to target you with ads.
Facebook is just one example, but there are plenty of other free platforms that use your data to make a buck (or a billion bucks).
What does Dot do with your data?
We believe so strongly that you should own your body data that we do not collect your private input. The Dot fertility app only asks for the data it needs to determine your chance of pregnancy and make better predictions for you. And that data is stored on your phone, not our servers. You are the only one with access to it.
The only time we ask for more data than we need or store data externally is when we are working on a research project or efficacy study with one of our partners. But we don’t collect any individual data without your explicit permission. Every woman in every study or survey we have done has been asked and has agreed to participate with full knowledge of how we are using her data.
In a world where fertility trackers, health apps, and others are trying to monitor your every move and monetize it, we think t's important that you know - if you're using the Dot app (or our other apps like CycleBeads and TwoDay Method), then you own your data. We consider you a customer, not a commodity.
References "Tech's Next Big Wave: Big Data Meets Biology." Fortune. Accessed March 22, 2018. http://fortune.com/2018/03/19/big-data-digital-health-tech/.
Graham-Harrison, Emma, and Carole Cadwalladr. "Revealed: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach." The Guardian. March 17, 2018. Accessed March 22, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election.
Cycle Technologies is a socially minded consumer product company based in Washington, D.C. The company creates Brilliantly Simple™ solutions to address global health needs with particular focus on reproductive health technologies. Since 2002 the company has worked with researchers, healthcare partners, and technologists to identify, develop, and make available leading edge ideas that fit its mission. To see more about the company’s initiatives, visit http://www.CycleTechnologies.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.