Vicious or Virtuous Cycle? The Privacy Implications of Active Assisted Living Technologies for Older People

Ava Scott, C Stellmacher, J Niess, Yvonne Rogers
in PETRA '22: The15th International Conference on PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments, Conference paper (text)


A variety of technologies are being developed to help older people live healthier, more independent, and safer lives, for longer. While many of these technologies are positively impacting the lives of older adults, they also have the potential to dictate specific behaviours or restrict their autonomy rather than empower them. The vulnerability theory of privacy proposes that vulnerable populations are not only more likely to be susceptible to privacy violations, but are also disproportionately affected by said violations. In this position paper, we adapt the vulnerability theory of privacy to the older adult population, and identify a further potential exacerbatory cycle. The risk of a 'slippery slope' of privacy violation occurs when AAL technologies enable an elevated and quantified visibility of (mis)behaviour and irregular activity that could seem to justify the deployment of further AAL technology. We present ĝ€?FOR VERIFICATION>ratchet-wise rehabilitation' as an alternative vision to the ĝ€?FOR VERIFICATION>slippery slope' and identify research and design challenges throughout the paper.