The Angel on Your Shoulder: Prompting Employees to Do the Right Thing Through the Use of Wearables

Fort, Timothy L.,Raymond, Anjanette H,Shackelford, Scott J. | April 13, 2016

The wearable revolution is upon us. Bulky chest straps and large wristbands are going the way of flip cellphones and floppy disks. In the near future, for example, it may be commonplace for athletes to wear Biostamps or smart T-shirts with embedded sensors during practices, games, and even sleep. And while athletic competitors may have been one of the first movers in the area, health care, the military, and the industrial sector have all begun to use wearables to harness vast treasure troves of information destined to provide highly individualized feedback. The possibilities are almost endless when such personal information is combined with big data analytics in the name of improving large-scale efficiency. Interestingly, employers were one of the first movers in the wearable revolution. Yet, other than basic tracking of people and goods, there is still a tremendous potential for expansion. What if wearables could be harnessed to assist employees in avoiding conflict of interests? What if wearables could assist employees in identifying ethical dilemmas and could then prompt them to consider alternative courses of action? What if the wearable evolution became an ethical revolution? But the drawbacks of using wearables in such a manner must also be critically analyzed. This Article takes this step by exploring the use of wearables as personal information gathering devices that feed into larger data sets. It then considers some of the legal and policy implications of the use and aggregation of data in such a manner and ultimately makes suggestions for bottom-up baseline regulation. Ultimately, we argue for the desirability of leveraging this emerging technology, subject to privacy and security safeguards, to help drive an ethical revolution in business cultures.