Ever feel like you’re kind of living in “1984?” While I’m all for technology making our lives easier and more productive, I’m not into having anyone’s workplace predict or try to figure out when they get pregnant.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article about how bosses could use big data to their advantage when it comes to their employee’s health needs. Firms like Castlight Healthcare Inc. collect data about what medications employees use, how they vote, and how they shop. Why? So, they can determine who is at risk for certain illnesses, so they can better market to them. Gross, right?
You may be thinking: Shouldn’t this be illegal or something?! Life changes and personal health do not have to be legally disclosed, so this data analysis is frightening at best. WSJ described why this data may be seen as “useful”:
To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth-control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app.
That data is matched with the woman’s age, and if applicable, the ages of her children to compute the likelihood of an impending pregnancy, says Jonathan Rende, Castlight’s chief research and development officer. She would then start receiving emails or in-app messages with tips for choosing an obstetrician or other prenatal care. If the algorithm guessed wrong, she could opt out of receiving similar messages.
Sure, maybe the software could help individuals make better choices about their healthcare, but at what cost? It also means that employers and other corporations not only have your personal information, but the potential for misuse is outstanding. There are reasons federal laws exist regarding health information privacy, as ways to prevent discrimination against pregnant women and those with special needs, disabilities, and long-term illnesses–which is something worth fighting for.
So consider me totally creeped out.