Meetup event discusses privacy, identity and payments in wearable technology

March 5, 2015 - 

Meetup group We Are Wearables recently held an event called Wearable Tech – Privacy, Identity and Payments at the MaRs Discovery District in Toronto, according to a report by Tech Vibes.

Since launching last May, We Are Wearables has quickly grown to become the largest wearable tech meetup in the world with more than 4,400 members and expanding to Chicago.

The sold-out event featured demonstrations from top wearable companies like Nymi and Meledii, as well as presentations that addressed how wearables and mobile payments bring new opportunities and challenges in becoming a legitimate means of identification.

Vance Lockton, a senior analyst with the Office of The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, delivered a speech about how PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents Act) is aimed at safeguarding public privacy rights in the context of wearable use.

PIPEDA is technology and principles based,” said Lockton. “We don’t say, here are safeguards that you have to meet for wearable technology. We always go back to reasonableness and appropriateness.”

“The foundation of PIPEDA is that you have to give informed consent for any collection, use or disclosure of your data. The more you get into wearables space, the more you get into always-on collection, and you may forget about its use.”

Privacy issues regarding wearables use was certainly the focus of a main discussion, which featured a panel comprised of Alexander Peh, head of market development and mobile at PayPal Canada; David Schifman, director of business development at Nymi; Ali Jiwani, payments innovation analyst at RBC; Adam Nanjee, financial technology lead at MaRS Ventures; and Jeppe Dorf, VP of transaction services at Rogers.

“Brands and other companies we engage with, they don’t want your biometric data,” Schifman said about the possibility of third parties analyzing a Nymi band wearer’s biometrics for their own agenda. “We have no cloud company and it’s up to the user to manage and own their biometric.”

The panelists highlighted the uncertainty of how wearables will find their way into the mainstream, if at all, but Nanjee seemed optimistic that it would eventually happen.

“It’s still the early days of wearables,” said Nanjee. “We still have desktop PC’s and smartphones. There are times when we have to decide when to take out our laptop versus our smartphone versus our tablet. We’re not yet there on wearables but I think we will get there.”

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.