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Between Empowerment and Manipulation: The Ethics and Regulation of For-Profit Health Apps

ISBN13: 9789403537917
Published: September 2021
Publisher: Kluwer Law International
Country of Publication: Netherlands
Format: Hardback
Price: £112.00

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Between Empowerment and Manipulation is an extensive ethical analysis with novel interpretations of European unfair commercial practices law on health apps and commercial digital choice environment. Health apps are incredibly compelling in their own right. Despite the promise of empowerment they offer, the tensions introduced by their data-driven, dynamically adjustable digital environments engender a potential for manipulation to which their designers and operators can easily succumb. In this important book, the author develops an ethical framework on how apps use their complete power over the design and operation of the digital environments to shape user-app relationships.

Focusing on the intricate tracking of users over time along with the possibility to personalize the environment based on knowledge gained from tracking, the book’s in-depth analysis of popular for-profit health apps engages with such particulars as the following:

  • strategic framing of health in health apps
  • cultural tendency to presume that we are unhealthy until we have proven we are healthy
  • key concepts of autonomy, vulnerability, trust, and manipulation
  • how health apps develop ongoing profitable relationships with users, and
  • use of misleading and aggressive commercial practices

As a prime example, the book will be welcomed not only for its incisive scrutiny of the health app phenomenon but also for the light it sheds on the wider problems inherent in the digital society—what digital environments know about their users, how they use that knowledge, and for which purpose. Contributing directly to the very recent trend of using the concept of online manipulation for analyzing harm and by providing a detailed conceptual analysis, this much needed interdisciplinary book is recommended for lawyers concerned with business practices, human resources professionals, policymakers, and academics interested in the intersection of ethics and law.

IT, Internet and Artificial Intelligence Law
CHAPTER 1. Health (Apps) for Everyone
CHAPTER 2. ‘Apps That Will Make You Happier and Healthier:’ The Strategic Framing of Health in Health Apps
CHAPTER 3. Autonomy, Vulnerability, Trust, and Manipulation: Key Concepts for the Ethical Evaluation of For-Profit Health Apps
CHAPTER 4. The Vague But Important Line between Supportive and Manipulative Digital Health Environments
CHAPTER 5. Health Apps and Unfair Commercial Practices