Policy and Privacy Implications of Ingestibles (2020)Curator: Andrew Iliadis, Temple University | November 2020
Collection Editor: Isabel Pedersen
Collection Archivists: Sharon Caldwell, Christiana Dillard & Aiden Kosciesza
This collection includes media artifacts related to the policy and privacy implications of ingestibles. While ingestibles may be the least established form of embodied computing, companies like Proteus Digital Health—which began research and development before 2008 and is one of the most visible ingestibles manufacturers on the market—continue to design and deliver products that include ingestible sensors, small wearable sensor patches, and applications on mobile devices that are connected to provider portals. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has produced regulations and product classifications for an ingestible event marker, which they describe as a system “composed of an ingestible microsensor, a data recorder in the form of a skin patch, and software,” and an ingestible telemetric gastrointestinal capsule imaging system “used for visualization.” In 2001, the FDA listed several risks associated with ingestibles, including biocompatibility, electrical and mechanical safety, radiofrequency radiated power, and electromagnetic compatibility, including interference, functional reliability, and misinterpretation. Yet, while the FDA lists many safety controls on ingestible cameras, privacy and user data does not appear on guidance documents. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also developed several initiatives related to ingestibles, including Connect2HealthFCC.
As ingestibles become commonplace as patients adopt ingestibles as part of their long-term health strategies at the behest of insurance companies, particularly in the context of health services, we might ask why it is that we should give up sensitive visceral data about our bodies to large companies who might then manipulate users through various mechanisms like insurance incentives and enforcement of noncompliance disciplinary measures. There is limited evidence and few obvious indications of what happens to users’ health data, or how access to such data may affect insurance premiums, coverage, privacy, or retention in the future.