If you’re old enough to remember the days of VHS tapes, then you probably remember living during a time when the biggest threat to your privacy was the clerk at the local video rental store blackmailing you based on your rental history, and the cable company who could monitor your subscription packages. People used to pay with something called cash, and George Orwell’s novel 1984 had yet to become a reality.
Fast forward to modern times and you’re probably used to living in a world where third-parties are gathering information on everyone around the clock. Stores and credit card companies are tracking your purchases, governments are tracking your driving habits though toll payments, people are putting their personal data in the cloud – all in the name of convenience.
Thanks to the big data and the Internet in general, humans have become the product which is bought and sold. According to Vernon humans in general are now addicted to sharing information and tracking metrics. They just don’t want that data in the hands of marketers. Unfortunately progress has come at a price – to be paid with privacy
While the recent NSA spying scandal confirms that 1984 is no longer a fictional work, the popularity of wearables is turning GATTACA into a chilling example of what happens when our most intimate details – our genetic makeup – is readily available for analysis by third parties.
Sure, wearable technology has plenty of merits however it still faces many challenges. In this case the biggest issue is a matter of ethics rather than security.
As mentioned by Vernon herself, no amount of security can keep us from entering a society where any amount of information can be bought or sold to the highest bidder. Even the promise of the lifesaving potential of wearables becomes moot when when you realize it just means the rich can buy time to extend their lives while ordinary people are left in the cold. On an even more sinister note, the availability of genetic data can allow a person’s life to be determined at birth based on their “fitness.”
For those concerned about their privacy, the only solution to problem, aside from donning a tin foil hat and going off the grid, the best way to preserve your privacy is to only use technology when it actually adds value to your life. For example, if you’re really concerned about your purchases being tracked use cash or Bitcoin when possible to keep your purchases private. On the other hand, when it comes to using gadgets such as wearables, before you don your Fitbit or your Google contact lenses consider whether the benefit provided by these offerings is a novelty or something which will improve your health.