Your Fitbit may not just be measuring how many steps you take a day, or monitoring how well you sleep.
The complexity of who owns the data being recorded by this piece of technology means that without proper safeguards, governments, employers and other stakeholders such as health insurance companies, schools and law enforcement agencies, could be able to use it to determine whether a person is fit for work or needs medical or psychological intervention.

UOW researchers Dr Roba Abbas and Professor Katina Michael have been at the forefront of global research into the social implications of technology and socio-technical systems for more than a decade.

And in 2020, with the global rollout of public health technologies, such as the Federal Government contact tracing app COVIDSafe, the concern over where personal data ends up, how it is used and by whom, has challenged the public in a way that it never has before.

Dr Abbas and Professor Michael say the rollout of the COVIDSafe app demonstrates that there needs to be more transparency around public health technology for the wider community to believe in its efficacy.

“There was insufficient clarity in the messaging and marketing around the implementation of the COVIDSafe app, and initially there was a sense of ambiguity around the legislative framework that would accompany the app’s deployment. This highlighted the importance of public trust [in the government] in the dissemination of information and the deployment of these kinds of apps,” Dr Abbas says.

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