Activision Blizzard tracking employee health and pregnancy data

Activision Blizzard has been incentivizing employees to use health-tracking software, a Washington Post article has revealed. The publisher was brought up by the paper in relation to Ovia Health, which provides family planning and pregnancy tracking services.

Ovia’s software follows women from when they start trying to conceive into early motherhood. It can make the aggregate of this data available to employers. In return for this information, Activision Blizzard is paying participating employees $1 per day in gift cards.

Monitoring health since 2014

It’s not the publisher’s first time working with health monitoring technologies. The article states that it has been doing so since 2014, when the company introduced a similar program using Fitbit trackers. Since then, it has expanded these efforts to include everything from employee sleeping habits and diet to autism and cancer care.

VP of Global Benefits Milt Ezzard stresses that these are voluntary programs: “Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry: ‘You’re prying into our lives.’ But we slowly increased the sensitivity of stuff, and eventually people understood it’s all voluntary, there’s no gun to your head, and we’re going to reward you if you choose to do it.”

The program is said to have saved the company $1200 per employee in annual medical costs. According to Ezzard, there are other benefits to the company as well: “I want [female employees] to have a healthy baby because it’s great for our business experience. Rather than having a baby who’s in the neonatal ICU, where she’s not able to focus much on work.”

Activision Blizzard tracks pregnancy data Ovia software Fitbit tracker

Fitbit’s Inspire tracker is exclusive for corporate employees and health insurance members.

Privacy and security concerns

This practice is of course not limited to the publisher. In fact, Fitbit recently released a tracker exclusively for corporate purposes, and there are many tools like it out there. The trend still raises definite privacy concerns, however.

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The Post notes that women who use Ovia’s app must consent to a 6,000-word terms of use. This grants the company a “royalty-free, perpetual, and irrevocable license, throughout the universe” to “utilize and exploit” their de-identified personal information for scientific research and “external and internal marketing purposes.” Ovia may also “sell, lease or lend aggregated Personal Information to third parties,” the document adds. Earlier this year ovulation tracker Flo was found sharing similar data with Facebook.

More importantly, Activision Blizzard has recently been in the spotlight for not exactly treating its employees with care. While its intentions may be pure in this, perhaps it could have been framed a little better.

Xander Teunissen
Writer, developer and esports observer from the land of cheese and windmills.

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