Law and Justice

Your wearable Health Tech device may help you lead a healthier life, but will it be able to keep you out of jail? Or perhaps the more important question is whether or not it will land you in jail. As the data collected by these devices gets more sophisticated, complex, and accurate, it could be cited as evidence in legal proceedings. Your reported location and activity levels could show that you were nowhere near the scene of the crime (or other event), or it might indicate that you were right were you should not have been.

An article in New Scientist shines some light on these questions. According to the author, a court in Calgary in Canada became the first to use data from a wearable device as part of the legal arguments in a case. The plaintiff’s attorneys used the information to demonstrate the difference in their client’s activity level before and after a work-related injury.

Data such as this can be used to make a case on behalf of an individual, but it could also be a tattletale that reveals damaging information about the client’s location or contacts with others. This raises questions about who should have access to this sort of data, and how it can be used. Should medical records be made available to prosecutors or law enforcement officials if they might demonstrate that an individual was impaired somehow during some activity, such as driving a car? Clearly, there are many complications related to the collection of data about our bodies and our activities that will need to be addressed by legislators and judges in the coming years as we work to determine who owns what data, and who should be allowed to control access to that information.