Law firm examines risks and rewards with deploying wearable tech


With the very real prospect of smartwatches and smart eyewear entering the workplace in the coming years, the potential productivity gains need to be taken with a pinch of salt in terms of protecting corporate data.

That much is self-evident; but Kate Bischoff, attorney at Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP, argues that wearables “require mindful adoption” from employers and that the risks, in a legal context are “real.”

Writing in a blog post, Bischoff notes the primary dangers of wearable technology in the workplace include privacy concerns, reasonable accommodation issues, as well as data security fears. Referencing privacy, Bischoff cited the case of Myrna Arias, who sued her employer after being allegedly fired for turning off a work app which tracked employees’ movements around the clock.

“It’s not difficult to imagine lawsuits from employees who feel that wearables take tracking too far,” Bischoff writes. She adds: “Employees may request not to wear a wearable, and employers must be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations. It is well settled that, unless it would create an undue burden for the employer, discrimination law requires employer flexibility in response to accommodation requests.”

Naturally, the benefits of wearables, as covered extensively by this publication, include productivity, corporate wellness, and employee safety, in the case of field workers. Bischoff notes the case of Humanyze, an app which measures where employees move within the workplace. Evidently, the risk associated with such a move is tangible; Fast Company staff members tested it out and said that even though it felt “Orwellian”, it provided some valuable insights.

Earlier this month Daniel Tozer, commercial technology lawyer at Harbottle & Lewis, wrote of where the law stands on wearable devices in the workplace for both organisations and device manufacturers. “Data protection is a key consideration for those developing for or manufacturing wearable technology as the devices can offer unparalleled insights into an individual’s activity,” he wrote.

“In order to provide these insights, the device must collect information on the individual,” Tozer added. Those who control this information must be mindful of obligations imposed by data protection legislation.”

In these instances, it’s wise to tread carefully when the time comes to avoid potential ramifications. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

The show is co-located with the AI & Big Data Expo, Cyber Security & Cloud Expo and Blockchain Expo so you can explore the entire ecosystem in one place.

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