Balancing the Halo Data Surveillance Disclosure and Algorithmic Opacity in Smart Hearing Aids

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Krista Kennedy
Noah Wilson
Charlotte Tschider


Medical device manufacturers and other high-technology companies increasingly incorporate algorithmic data surveillance in next-generation medical wearables. These devices, including hearing aids, leverage patient data created through human-computer interaction to not only power devices but also increase corporate profits. Although data protection laws establish privacy requirements for personal information collection and use, these companies continue to use patients’ personal information with little notice or education, significantly curtailing the agency of wearers. We explore the complex ecology of the Starkey Halo smart hearing aid, focusing on the opacity of its algorithmic functionality and examining patient education materials for disclosures of data surveillance. We contextualize these findings within privacy law in the United States and European Union that are relevant to algorithmic surveillance and recommend specific steps to enhance wearer agency through informed decision-making.

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Research Articles
Author Biographies

Krista Kennedy, Syracuse University

Krista Kennedy is Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric as well as an affiliate of the Autonomous Systems Policy Institute at Syracuse University. Kennedy is the author of Textual Curation: Authorship, Agency, and Technology in Wikipedia and the Chambers’ Cyclopædia. Her research on rhetorics of technology has appeared in numerous venues in the U.S., U.K., and France.

Noah Wilson, Syracuse University

Noah Wilson is Visiting Instructor of Writing and Rhetoric at Colgate University and a PhD candidate in Syracuse University’s Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program. His dissertation examines the role of posthuman ethos in algorithmic information processing and community formation. His research has appeared in Rhetoric Review, Disclosure, and other venues.

Charlotte Tschider, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Charlotte Tschider is Assistant Professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Tschider is the author of International Cybersecurity and Privacy Law in Practice (Wolters Kluwer 2018) and Cybersecurity Law: An Interdisciplinary Problem (West 2020). Her writings have appeared in a variety of academic journals and public news media.


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