Want to use wearables? Can you justify their use?

Want to use wearables? Can you justify their use?

Wearables: what exactly are they?

The Oxford English Dictionary refers to them as:

A wearable commodity, an article of clothing. Chiefly in pl

Surprisingly perhaps, the word has been in use since at least 1711.

Even Charlotte Brontë used it, in 1849, in her second novel Shirley (although admittedly, she was probably thinking of petticoats and chemises at the time, not pieces of kit that often have more computing power than the rocket which propelled humans to the moon).

In essence, 'wearables' now typically means wearable technology: think more Buck Rogers-style sunglasses and less Victorian frumpiness.

So what does this mean in practice?

It is becoming clear that practitioners and businesses need to tread very carefully in this developing area. This term is not as innocuous as it sounds. Whilst there is no standalone law on this tech—no Wearable Technology (Permitted Uses) Regulations 2014—many existing laws, such as the Data Protection Act 1998, do apply to its use. There is also now guidance on how these devises can be used (such as from the ICO).

To this end, last week, we had a first look at the latest ICO guidance on wearable technology: Want to use wearable technology in your business? Check out new ICO guidance first. We also checked out the ICO's useful seminar on the subject a few days later:


In essence, the main issue for many businesses is whether they can use devices (such as Google Glass) to record their customers.

It certainly looks as though this will be difficult to justify in many cases. For example, since our post last week, we asked the ICO the following question on this technology:

[T]he new guidance states that there has to be, eg, a pressing social need to use wearables & their use has to be necessary. How realistic is this for businesses that want to use wearables? What can businesses realistically do to comply?

Ignoring my excited overuse of the word 'realistic', her

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