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A Quantified Self Report Card: Ethical Considerations of Privacy as Commodity

Metric Culture

ISBN: 978-1-78743-290-1, eISBN: 978-1-78743-289-5

Publication date: 24 September 2018


In June 2017, The Human Data Commons Foundation released its first annual Quantified Self Report Card. This project consisted of a qualitative review of the privacy policy documentation of 55 private sector companies in the self-tracking and biometric data industry. Two researchers recorded their ratings on concrete criteria for each company’s website, as well as providing a blend of objective and subjective ratings on the overall ease of readability and navigability within each site’s documentation. This chapter explains the unique context of user privacy rights within the Quantified Self tracking industry, and summarises the overall results from the 2017 Quantified Self Report Card. The tension between user privacy and data sharing in commercial data-collection practices is explored and the authors provide insight into possibilities for resolving these tensions. The self-as-instrument in research is touched on in autoethnographic narrative confronting and interrogating the difficult process of immersive qualitative analytics in relation to such intensely complex and personal issues as privacy and ubiquitous dataveillance. Drawing upon excerpted reflections from the Report Card’s co-author, a few concluding thoughts are shared on freedom and choice. Finally, goals for next year’s Quantified Self Report Card are revealed, and a call extended for public participation.



Palmer, C. and Fairfield, R. (2018), "A Quantified Self Report Card: Ethical Considerations of Privacy as Commodity", Ajana, B. (Ed.) Metric Culture, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 217-233.



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