U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, today introduced legislation to prevent data mining of Americans’ personal health data stored on wearable personal devices, such as smartwatches.
The bill comes amid renewed concerns of Google’s plans to buy Fitbit in light of recent reports that Google has partnered with Ascension to harvest the non-anonymized private health data of millions of Americans, according to an announcement from Cassidy’s office.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act currently protects all interactions between patients and their doctors. However, HIPAA does not protect health data recorded on personal devices.
The Stop Marketing And Revealing the Wearables And Trackers Consumer Health Data Act (Smartwatch Data Act) defines what data is protected under the law. The bill would prevent entities that collect consumer health information from transferring, selling, sharing or allowing access to consumer health information or any individually identifiable consumer health information collected on personal health trackers. Violations of the new act would be enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services, the same way the department enforces HIPAA.
“The Google/Ascension news has brought needed scrutiny to the security of Americans’ health data.” Says Cassidy in a prepared statement. “The Smartwatch Act prevents big tech data harvesters from collecting intimate private data without patients’ consent.”