Privacy experts say choosing life insurance tied to fitness tracking could have unintended consequences

(CBC News) — Privacy experts say they’re concerned life-insurance programs that reward customers for behaviours like logging their activity using a fitness tracker could have unintended consequences for the safety of their personal data.

Insurance giant John Hancock, owned by Canadian company Manulife Financial Corp., announced Thursday a switch to “interactive” life-insurance policies only, which offer incentives for things like wearing a Fitbit or other fitness tracker.

Customers in John Hancock’s program — a partnership with Vitality Group — do not have to log their activities to get coverage, but can receive discounts or other perks if they do. The insurer will begin converting existing traditional life insurance policies to interactive versions in 2019, it said.

That concerns privacy advocates who worry these optional programs won’t be optional down the road.

“At this stage, they’re saying it’s voluntary,” said Ann Cavoukian, who served as Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner from 1997 to 2014. (…)

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