In a new low, Activision Blizzard is apparently paying female employees in $1 gift cards to share their pregnancy data.
There’s a larger question being asked today about just how much data is too much? We’ve got Fitbits and Apple Watches capable of recording more and more of our biological data than we’ve ever been able to before, and not all of that data is being kept private. Some of it, according to a new report from The Washington Post, is going to your employer.
Provided you agree to it, at least for now.
In a new low for Activision Blizzard, company execs are paying their female employees to share data on their pregnancy via a third-party app. The app is called Ovia, and it markets itself as a pregnancy and fertility tracker. Moms-to-be can input a whole bunch of their biological data to help with conception, find out how they’re doing, or just compare the size of their fetus to random household objects.
Which would be fine if that’s all that Ovia did, but they also offer a service to employers where they can send anonymized aggregate data to the company’s HR department. This allows those HR departments to determine the number of high-risk pregnancies, premature births, and how long the average maternity leave lasts.
In Activision’s case, they’ve incentivized getting employees on this app (and to share their personal data) by paying them $1 per day in the form of gift cards. And Milt Ezzard, vice president of global benefits for Activision Blizzard, had some pretty terrifying reasoning as to why this is even remotely acceptable.
“Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry: ‘You’re prying into our lives,’ ” Ezzard told The Washington Post in an interview. “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.
“People’s sensitivity has gone from, ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard is Big Brother,’ to, ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard really is bringing me tools that can help me out.’ ”
Critics say that this has less to do with helping out a person taking the difficult plunge into parenthood, and more to do with cutting healthcare costs on the employer.
And just to confirm their suspicions, Ezzard pretty much just comes out and says it. "I want them 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."
The article did not say precisely where the gift cards are for, so maybe it’s worth it to share your pregnancy data to get a few bucks off at Pottery Barn. Just remember that Big Brother Activision Blizzard has a close eye on your womb.