Dutch Data Protection Authority says companies can't collect health data from employee wearables

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Say goodbye to employee wellness programs involving wearables, people who live in the Netherlands.

After examining two unnamed companies, the Netherlands' Data Protection Authority ruled Tuesday that employers cannot gather employee data via wearables – even if employees are okay with it.

Movement and sleep pattern data is "sensitive personal data that say[s] something about your health," and therefore, should not be processed by employers, said the agency. Since employees depend on their employers financially, the consensus is that employees do not have the power to give consent when it comes to health data collection.

According to The Next Web, the Netherlands' Data Protection Authority has been distrustful of wearables and data collection in the past. For instance, last year it ruled that the Nike + app intrudes upon user privacy [.pdf] and the restrictions put in place to protect user data.

What does a Dutch organization's ruling have to do with the state of wearables in the United States? It's possible this decision could affect U.S. policy surrounding wearables in the workplace – especially if other European countries decide health data collection by employers is illegal. It will also be interesting to see how this affects U.S. businesses with shops and employees in Europe.

For more:
- see the Netherlands' Data Protection Authority release
- read The Next Web article

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