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Krista Kennedy expands her work on data surveillance, algorithms and wearable devices

Oct 19, 2021

Balancing the Halo Data Surveillance Disclosure and Algorithmic Opacity in Smart Hearing Aids

Krista Kennedy, Noah Wilson, Charlotte Tschider

Vol. 4 No. 1 (2021)

October 2020

Krista Kennedy

Krista Kennedy


Medical device manufacturers and other high-technology companies increasingly incorporate algorithmic data surveillance in next-generation medical wearables. These devices, including hearing aids, leverage patient data created through human-computer interaction to not only power devices but also increase corporate profits.

Although data protection laws establish privacy requirements for personal information collection and use, these companies continue to use patients’ personal information with little notice or education, significantly curtailing the agency of wearers.

We explore the complex ecology of the Starkey Halo smart hearing aid, focusing on the opacity of its algorithmic functionality and examining patient education materials for disclosures of data surveillance. We contextualize these findings within privacy law in the United States and European Union that are relevant to algorithmic surveillance and recommend specific steps to enhance wearer agency through informed decision-making.