Gary Marchant

Title: Legal Aspects of Non-Medical Personal Sensors

Abstract: Personal sensors embedded in wearables or on one’s body are becoming more common, and raise a number of legal issues and concerns.  Perhaps the most important issue is the privacy of the data streams generated by such sensors.  Because these sensors are non-medical, the data they generate are not protected by HIPAA.  The data from these sensors may be protected under the Fourth Amendment from government searches and seizures pursuant to the recent Supreme Court Carpenter decision, although there are some open questions about how that precedent would apply.  There is relatively little legal protection for the privacy of sensor data from private sources, at least under current U.S. law.  The security of sensor data is another issue, and product manufacturers may face enforcement or liability risks if they provide inadequate protection against hacking.  Another set of issues is whether a person’s sensor data is available for discovery in litigation.  Since the individual herself or himself may want to use that data in litigation, a ban on using such data does not make sense.  Rather, courts will need to conduct a balancing test, much like they do now with granting access to genetic or social media data.  Finally, there are both common law and state statutory rights against involuntary embedding of sensors in a person, assuming that the person is aware of the embedded sensor. This presentation will explore these and other legal issues regarding non-medical personal sensors. 

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Biography: Gary Marchant is a Regent's Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation. His research interests include legal aspects of genomics and personalized medicine, the use of genetic information in environmental regulation, risk and the precautionary principle, and governance of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, neuroscience, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

He teaches courses in Law, Science and Technology, Genetics and the Law, Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy, Health Technologies and Innovation, Privacy, Big Data and Emerging Technologies, and Artificial Intelligence: Law and Ethics. During law school, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review and was awarded the Fay Diploma (awarded to top graduating student at Harvard Law School). Professor Marchant frequently lectures about the intersection of law and science at national and international conferences. He has authored more than 150 articles and book chapters on various issues relating to emerging technologies. Among other activities, he has served on five National Academy of Sciences committees, has been the principal investigator on several major grants, and has organized numerous academic conferences on law and science issues.