Privacy Challenges in the Quantified Self Movement – An EU Perspective

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The gathering of data about oneself (such as running speed, pulse, breathing rate, food consumption, etc.) is rapidly becoming more popular, and has lead to the catch phrase “Quantified Self” (QS). While this trend creates opportunities both for individuals and for society, it also creates risks, due to the data’s personal and often sensitive nature. Countering these risks, while keeping the benefits of QS services, is a task both for the legal system and for the technical community. However, it should also take users’ expectations into account. We therefore analyze the legal situation of QS services based on European law and the privacy policies of some major service providers to clarify the practical consequences for users. We present the result of a study concerning the users’ views on privacy, revealing a conflict between the user’s expectations and the providers’ practices. To help resolve the conflict, we discuss how existing and future privacy-enhancing technologies can avoid the risks associated with QS services.

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