According to a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher Anil Aswani, integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into devices like activity trackers, smartphones and smartwatches is dangerous for the privacy of people's health data. Aswani is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The study also goes to argue about the lack of current regulations to protect people’s confidential health-related information.
As per the study, opting for artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to identify individuals by learning patterns in their daily data collected by devices such as activity trackers, smartwatches and smartphones, and further comparing those patterns with demographic data. Aswani further clarifies that the problem is not with devices collecting the information about users but with how the information collected by those devices can be misused and may be sold on the open market.
Aswani says the results indicate a major problem because even if the data is erased, it is possible to put it back together with the right set of information available at one’s disposal. To explain it further, he gave a hypothetical example of how Facebook could collect their user’s step data using the app on their smartphone and match it with health care data bought from another company and in some cases, gain monetary benefits
This is what Aswani had to say:
"I'm not saying we should abandon these devices. But we need to be very careful about how we are using this data. We need to protect the information. If we can do that, it's a net positive."
He further added:
"There are companies buying health data. It's supposed to be anonymous data, but their whole business model is to find a way to attach names to this data and sell it."