Privacy, as many of our previous blogs have enforced, is essential not only on a business-customer relationship but also on a moral level. The recent Fitbit acquisition by Google has created big waves in the privacy sphere, as the customer’s health data is at risk, due to Google’s past dealings with personal information. On the topic of healthcare data, the recent Coronavirus panic has thrown patient privacy out the window, as the fear of the spreading virus rises. Finally, data sharing continues to raise eyes as a popular social media app, TikTok scrambles to protect its privacy reputation.
Fitbit acquisition causing major privacy concerns
From its in-house command system to being the world’s most used search engine, Google has infiltrated most aspects of regular life. There are seemingly no corners left untouched by the search engine.
In 2014, Google released its Wear OS, a watch technology for monitoring health, as well as for use compatible with phone technology. While wearable technology has soared to the top of technology chart, as a popular way to track and manage your health and lifestyle, Google’s Wear OS has not gained the popularity necessary to maintain itself as a strong tech competitor.
In November of last year, Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion. Fitbit has sold over 100 million devices and is worn by over 28 million people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many are calling this Google’s attempt to recover from its failing project.
But there is more to this acquisition than staying on top of the market; personal data.
Google’s terrible privacy reputation is falling onto Fitbit, as fears that the personal information FitBit holds, like sleep patterns or heart rate, will fall into the hands of third parties and advertisers.
Healthcare is a large market, one of which Google has been silently buying into for years. Accessing personal health information gives Google an edge in the healthcare partnerships it’s been looking for.
Fitbit has come under immense scrutiny after its announced partnership with Google, seeing sales drop 5% in 2019. Many are urging Fitbit consumers to ditch their products amidst the acquisition.
However, Fitbit still maintains that users will be in full control of their data and that the company will not see personal information to Google.
The partnership will be followed with a close eye going forward, as government authorities such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission open inquiries into the companies intentions.
TikTok scrambling to fix privacy reputation
TikTok is a social media app that has taken over video streaming services. With over 37 million users in the U.S. last year, TikTok has been downloaded over 1 billion times. And that number is expected to rise 22% this year.
The CEO of Reddit recently criticized TikTok, saying he tells people, “don’t install that spyware on your phone.”
These privacy concerns stem from the app’s connection with the Chinese government. In 2017, viral app Musical.ly was acquired and merged with TikTok by Beijing company, ByteDance, for $1 billion. Chinese law requires companies to comply with government intelligence operations if asked, meaning apps like TikTok would have no authority to decline government access to their data.
In new attempts to combat all privacy concerns, ex-APD, Roland Cloutier has been hired as Chief Information Security Officer to oversee privacy information issues within the popular app.
With Cloutier’s long history in cybersecurity, there is hope that the most popular app among will soon gain a better privacy reputation.
Coronavirus raising concerns over person information
The Coronavirus is a deadly, fast-spreading respiratory illness that has moved quickly throughout China and now reported in 33 countries across the world.
Because of this, China has been thrown into a rightful panic and has gone to all lengths to combat and protect its spreading. However, in working to protect the continuous spread of the virus, many are saying that patient privacy is being thrown out the window.
Last month China put out a ‘close contact’ app, testing people to see if they’ve been around people who have or contracted the virus. The app assigns a colour code to users; green for safe, yellow for required 7day quarantine, and red is a 14day quarantine.
Not only is the app required to enter public places like subways or malls, but the data is also shared with police.
The New York Times released that the app sends a person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to the authorities. China’s already high-tech surveillance has reached new limits, as the times reports that surveillance cameras placed around neighborhoods are being strictly monitored, watching residents who present yellow or red cards.
South Korea has also thrown patient privacy to the wind, as text messages are sent out, highlighting every movement of individuals who contracted the virus. One individual’s extra-marital affair was exposed through the string of messages, revealing his every move before contracting the virus, according to the Guardian.
The question on everyone’s mind now is, what happens to privacy when the greater good is at risk?
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