Artificial intelligence could identify you and your health history from your step tracker

Manufacturers say data stripped of identifying information is no privacy risk. But we found AI can overcome that. Time to update health privacy laws.

Recent revelations about how social media giants misuse our personal data for profit have elevated the issue of privacy among Americans, but what if this data also included our personal health records? Every day, millions of Americans use Fitbits and other personal activity trackers, often at the prompting of employers who provide incentives to wear the devices.

But as these individuals’ data profiles are shared — with their companies, as well as with health care providers that oversee corporate wellness programs — there is significant risk that the data could later be used to identify who they are and link their identities to detailed medical profiles that can be bought by companies, researchers, or anyone else.

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