If you are childless, shop for clothing online, spend a lot on cable TV, and drive a minivan, data brokers are probably going to assume you’re heavier than average. We know that drug companies may use that data to recruit research subjects. Marketers could utilize the data to target ads for diet aids, or for types of food that research reveals to be particularly favored by people who are childless, shop for clothing online, spend a lot on cable TV, and drive a minivan.
We may also reasonably assume that the data can be put to darker purposes: for example, to offer credit on worse terms to the obese (stereotype-driven assessment of looks and abilities reigns from Silicon Valley to experimental labs). And perhaps some day it will be put to higher purposes: for example, identifying “obesity clusters” that might be linked to overexposure to some contaminant.
To summarize: let’s roughly rank these biosurveillance goals as:
1) Curing illness or precursors to illness (identifying the obesity cluster; clinical trial recruitment)
2) Helping match those offering products to those wanting them (food marketing)
3) Promoting the classification and de facto punishment of certain groups (identifying a certain class as worse credit risks)