March 01, 2016

Tiny Sensors, Huge Consequences

Unregulated Inferences from Big Data Create Ethical and Legal Dilemmas for Businesses and Consumers

The 1983 hit song “Every Breath You Take” by the Police was written as a heartbroken love ballad, but many of its lyrics also accurately describe the relationship we have with technology today. Every breath we take and every move we make can be recorded somewhere, voluntarily or involuntarily, by surveillance cameras, smartphones, and wearable devices such as health and wellness trackers like the Fitbit. Wearable devices track information about our movements, heart rates, sleeping habits, weight, etc. The signals emitted by smartphones when we are shopping in a store can be used to monitor the time spent in different aisles and eventual purchases. Home security systems track when we enter and exit our homes and how much time we spend in each room. Smart sensor technology for thermostats can gather data on our energy use and which rooms we use as well as our preferred temperatures.

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