The EU which is already reviewing data protection legislation is setting its sights on mobile health or mHealth applications and how your health information should be kept private. Modern smartphones can now monitor how many steps you walk each day at their simplest. In the future, lots of other data may be transmitted over the Internet of Things – how much you weigh using connected scales, what your blood sugar level is and so on. How this and other information should be protected is high on lawmakers’ agendas. But does most of the public care in these days of Twitter, Facebook and other social media? How many people really read those notices about cookies and how many people care?
Europe’s leading official on data protection has warned that mobile healthcare technology will have implications for privacy, and that there is a need for more transparency and clarity over health information in the market for consumers and patients.
Giovanni Buttarelli (pictured), the European data protection supervisor (EDPS), has sounded the warning in a formal opinion on mobile health (mHealth), drafted in response to concerns over the way personal data could be used in relevant solutions.
It comes at a time when the NHS and health services throughout Europe are taking steps to increase the use of mobile technology in providing care. The opinion is not a legally binding document, but it provides guidance which the EU expects to provide the basis for national regulations in member states.