Contextual Expectations of Privacy in Self-Generated Health Information Flows

48 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2013 Last revised: 28 Aug 2013

Date Written: March 30, 2013


Converging technological, regulatory, and social forces point to an increasingly personalized, data driven, and collaborative future of health decision-making. A prominent driver of this transition is the ready availability of low-cost, off-the-shelf commercial digital self-monitoring sensors and apps that enable individuals to log broad swaths of highly granular behavioral and physiological health attributes in near real time. Mobile health self-quantification tools, including smart pedometers, calorie counters, heart rate monitors, sleep trackers, and other “participatory personal data” collection devices hold great promise for individuals and for the public health, including increased bodily awareness, proactive health engagement, and community building. Their commercial implementation also raises significant privacy and security issues that warrant close attention.

Keywords: contextual privacy, mobile health, self-quantification, information flow, social norms

Suggested Citation

Patterson, Heather, Contextual Expectations of Privacy in Self-Generated Health Information Flows (March 30, 2013). TPRC 41: The 41st Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, Available at SSRN: or

Heather Patterson (Contact Author)

New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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