Last week, the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), through the cooperation of Fitbit, Inc. (Fitbit), released new guidance about wearable health tracker devices called “Toward Privacy Aware Research and Development in Wearable Health.” The most important takeaways of this report:

  • “Internal research and development offers a unique window into data practices and policies at companies, such as insight into how data is categorized in projects, the way teams are structured, and the privacy and security methods that are deployed. Internal R&D also offers a flexible environment for piloting privacy-protective and ethical data policies and practices.”
  • “Building a culture of privacy, security, and ethics involves embedding practices and policies that place value on individual dignity and corporate data stewardship, and also prioritizes contributions to the social good.”
  • “Technology companies are managing several dimensions of trust through internal research and development – the company and its users, the integrity of internal policies and practices for employees, and the relationship between the company and society. Successfully navigating this trust through practical measures must be at the core of any policy or practice recommendation.”
  • “Research departments at wearable companies face ongoing ethical questions related to the data they process. Policies and procedures around the uses of internal data, such as employee information, should be developed first.”

In this report, CDT takes a close look at the practices and procedures within internal research and development teams of wearable devices companies (Fitbit in particular), and pulls together the information collected through interviews, surveys and other research to build a source for the industry’s best practices and technology trends. Read the full report for more details on best practices for consumer privacy and internal research procedures.