On 20 May 2015, we published a collection of science fiction stories for the 300th edition of EDRi-gram newsletter – the premise of the collection was scenarios that we envisaged happening in 2025. We did not imagine that one of the stories on data collection practices by health insurers would be getting closer to reality already in 2015.
In July 2015, the Italian insurance company Generali revealed the details of its “Vitality Programme”, which is planned to be rolled out in Germany, France and Austria in 2016. The goal is the programme is to find out what clients are buying, eating, and how often they go to the gym. On its website, Generali describes the programme as follows:
To begin with, clients are encouraged to find out their personal health and fitness levels. Then they decide on personal objectives during the programme. The second step is to work towards these goals. Points are awarded for the achievement of the milestones that clients can use – depending on how many they’ve accumulated – to reach a new level. According to the level, clients receive various discounts and vouchers. Points can be collected through various options, such as going to preventive medical appointments (…), fitness and movement as well as buying healthy food.
In an interview with the German edition of the Technology Review, the head of Generali Giovanni Liverani stated that “some basic data can be entered into an App by clients themselves, such as age, weight, and height. In addition, they can decide: Do I allow my gym to tell Generali Vitality how often I went to the training sessions, or certain supermarket chains to tell what type of food I bought. This data will then be transmitted to the legally separate Generali Vitality company.”
Some clients, however, might be more reluctant to share their data – along the lines of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez Thus who stated in 2013 that “information that is not collected in the first place can’t be misused.” According to Liverani, clients who are concerned about their privacy and decide not to participate in the programme will not be “punished”. So, the good news is, the fact that you are not getting benefits that others are getting is not, in Generali’s logic, a comparative disadvantage for you.
Technology Review: Tracking by insurance companies: We will not punish you (only in German, 27.08.2015)
EDRi-gram 300: Neuro-implant hack reveals secret deals between health insurers and employment agencies (20.05.2015)
Generali: Vitality programme
(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler, EDRi)