Fitbit launches Researcher Pledge and updates to their Terms of Service to help educate the research community on user privacy risks.
In response to these evolving user privacy issues, Fitbit has developed a new Researcher Pledge and updates to their Terms of Service to help educate the research community on these risks and specify the commitments we require from researchers to help protect the privacy of our users. The new Research Pledge outlines best practices to help ensure research study involving Fitbit user data is consistent with Fitbit’s dedication to protecting user privacy and furthering meaningful health and wellness research.
Responding to Pace of Wearables Innovation
The pace of wearables innovation is moving quickly. In addition to new sensors and features being developed, exciting new applications for healthcare are emerging. The potential for what these devices can do is great, but so is the need for a dialogue about privacy and the potential tradeoffs, including who ultimately is in control over the data collected and how it is shared.
Nowhere are these conversations more critical than in clinical research. Wearables help researchers capture real-time data, engage and motivate patients in new ways, and design innovative study protocols not previously possible. But enabling that potential requires constant vigilance about the privacy of those who agree to participate in studies. As technology and research protocols evolve and become more sophisticated, they present new risks, such as the potential for unintended re-identification.
Key best practices outlined in the Research Pledge include:
– Researchers must obtain informed consent from research subjects or, in the case of minors, from their parent or guardian.
– Research studies must be reviewed or approved by an independent ethics review board charged with protecting the rights and well-being of research subjects.
– Research studies must abide by data use limitations that respect the privacy and autonomy of research subjects
– If researchers share information about the research data set outside of your organization, for instance, by publishing your research findings, you must mitigate the risk of re-identification of research subjects
– Researchers must give research subjects control over their personal data.
– Researchers must maintain data security by using technical, administrative, and physical controls that are appropriate to the sensitivity of the data, meet or exceed industry standards, and are reasonably designed to protect against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of the data.
Why It Matters
Privacy and security have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since the company was founded, and this is an important step in continuing to move the industry forward.
For more information about the new Research Pledge, click here for details.