What are the legal risks for employers of the new wearable technologies like smart glass, fitness tracking bracelets, and smart watches?

By Debby Winters

Much like bring your own device (BYOD), where employees conduct company business on their personal smart phones or tablets, wearable technology use requires strong cyber policies to avoid company exposure. However, avoiding exposure with BYOD with wearable technology is not the only legal risk employers should be concerned with.

Wearable technology goes a step farther in that products such as smart glass (Google Glass) bring a new dimension to risks in such areas as workers’ comp and product liability. For the insurance industry, smart glass products can augment adjudicating claims, creating an almost real-time assessment of losses.

Wearable technology may boost productivity across several business sectors, but has its potential drawbacks as well. For example, an employee wearing company-issued Google Glass might become distracted and cause an accident.  If an employer has authorized use of this wearable technology and something happens during the course of the work, it can become a serious issue.

Company-issued glass also can be used to invade someone’s privacy, as Google Glass is able to capture real-time facial images and video, and search and/or post data on that person.

Companies that engineer and deliver wearable devices such as fitness wristbands also face exposure.  If a fitness wristband device is collecting information on a person, it can definitely lead to privacy-related concerns.  The private health data on such devices also puts the manufacturer at risk if protected data is lost.

As this technology is relatively new, discussions are beginning so that everyone’s risks are accessed. However, due to the current nature of this wearable technology, companies are not managing the risk like hospitals or large cloud-based companies. Many of the companies are only beginning to take measures to manage this. In the future regulatory laws are bound to be put forth to address this, but right now it is unclear who owns the data and who can see the data generated by this wearable technology.

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