We have all heard about "black boxes" in planes and cars. We even previously blogged about it here . But have you ever heard of "black boxes" for the body?
Devices such as the Fitbit, Jawbone UP, and Nike Fuelband track your daily activity, sleep, and even moods. Mobile apps such as My Fitness Pal, Google Maps, Apple Health, and even Facebook track your movement with GPS tracking enabled on your mobile devices.
Combine all of this information and one can get a pretty good idea of your activities, fitness, health, frequent points of travel, and perhaps even how fast you were traveling at the time of an accident.
Your first thought may be that divorce lawyers will have a "field day" with this information, or that police and prosecuting attorneys will subpoena as much of this information as possible to prove a criminal charge. But the reach of this data goes far beyond what we may first consider. In a personal injury or wrongful death matter, this information can ultimately prove beneficial, or alternatively, damaging to the claim. Until now, attorneys have relied almost exclusively on medical records and physician testimony as evidence of an individual's health and physical condition before and after an accident. But with the use of mobile apps and tracking devices that store hard data, an individual's health, physical condition, activity levels and sleep may be evident in the raw data from such apps and devices. Companies such as Vivameterica may be retained to analyze this information and compare it to other databases showing average activity of individuals with similar weight, age, gender, body mass, etc.
Again, it is important to note that the data you produce by going about your day with a fitness tracker can also be used against you. Wearable data could just as easily be used by defense attorneys and insurance companies to undermine your injury claims. Although the extent to which such data will be discoverable and/or admissible is yet to be determined, requests for court orders to obtain this information will undoubtedly follow in the footsteps of prior battles over cell phone records and social media posts. In this regard, additional concerns are undoubtedly to be raised regarding the accuracy of such records. A simple Google search produces results for how to "cheat" the apps and devices. Was someone else wearing the device? Also, not all apps and devices are created equal. Some count moving your arms around as walking, while others cannot easily register cycling as an activity. These systems are often imperfect when tracking activity and data.
Our mobile devices are of great convenience to us and provide us a sense of security in our daily living. They can be useful tools in our quest for better health and fitness and diet. But one must use these apps and devices with knowledge of the potential loss of privacy they bring with them. If you have that new iphone you need only look to Settings>Privacy>Location Services>Systems Services>Frequent Locations, for just one example of device tracking which most of us are completely unaware.