The human body may be the New Frontier. Commercially speaking.
As a data farmer, I watched the value of my body (digitally speaking) rise on the futures market Wednesday with the introduction of Apple Watch with its new play in the health&fitness space, HealthKit.
In the avalanche of media covering the product rollout, only the New York Times seemed to pay serious attention to an issue of concern to the ordinary data farmer. Won’t all the health data scooped up and stored in the clouds entice unscrupulous entrepreneurs (and unemployed Russian teenage hackers) looking to strike it rich in the Data Rush?
In order to ally consumer anxieties, Apple swears its business model, hoarding cash, does not rely on hoarding data for its own profit-seeking purposes or to rent to others.
What’s more, Apple told health app developers they can’t use the data they collect for advertising or data mining. Nor can they share data with third parties without user consent.
Can data farmers trust Apple to keep their personal health data personal when the market for heartbeats is as wild as for texts, tweets, likes, shares and naked photos? And probably more profitable?
Given its shoddy record of oversight when not in its financial interest, how confident can data farmers be of Apple’s willingness and ability to seriously regulate its appmakers?
Clearly the hour has arrived for the Apostles of Privacy Doom, such as the Times’ Tom Friedman.
Apparently Yahoo did not get Friedman’s message. Yesterday the company displayed its dedication to protecting personal data from government snooping by releasing documents in its unsuccessful resistance to government demands for online user data under the National Security Agency’s PRISM program. In what sounds like a scene from The Sopranos, the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it did not turn over the data.
The Guardian quotes Patrick Toomey of the American Civil Liberties Union saying so far it appears Yahoo “had challenged the warrantless wiretapping program more than any other of its competitors”.
Case documents can be accessed here.