Activision-Blizzard among users of data generated from pregnancy-tracking apps

Like millions of women, Diana Diller was a devoted user of the pregnancy-tracking app Ovia, logging in every night to record new details on a screen asking about her bodily functions, sex drive, medications and mood. When she gave birth last spring, she used the app to chart her baby’s first online medical data — including her name, her location and whether there had been any complications — before leaving the hospital’s recovery room.

But someone else was regularly checking in, too: her employer, which paid to gain access to the intimate details of its workers’ personal lives, from their trying-to-conceive months to early motherhood. Diller’s bosses could look up aggregate data on how many workers using Ovia’s fertility, pregnancy and parenting apps had faced high-risk pregnancies or gave birth prematurely; the top medical questions they had researched; and how soon the new moms planned to return to work.

“Maybe I’m naive, but I thought of it as positive reinforcement: They’re trying to help me take care of myself,” said Diller, 39, an event planner in Los Angeles for the video game company Activision Blizzard. The decision to track her pregnancy had been made easier by the $1 a day in gift cards the company paid her to use the app: That’s “diaper and formula money,” she said.

Milt Ezzard, the vice president of global benefits for Activision Blizzard, a video gaming giant that earned $7.5 billion last year with franchises such as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft,” credits acceptance of Ovia there to a changing workplace culture where volunteering sensitive information has become more commonplace.

In 2014, when the company rolled out incentives for workers who tracked their physical activity with a Fitbit, some employees voiced concerns over what they called a privacy-infringing overreach. But as the company offered more health tracking — including for mental health, sleep, diet, autism and cancer care — Ezzard said workers grew more comfortable with the trade-off and enticed by the financial benefits.

“Each time we introduced something, there was a bit of an outcry: ‘You’re prying into our lives,’ ” Ezzard said. “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,” he added, “has gone from, ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard is Big Brother,’ to, ‘Hey, Activision Blizzard really is bringing me tools that can help me out.’ ”

Ezzard, the benefits executive at Activision Blizzard, said offering pregnancy programs such as Ovia helps the company stand out in a competitive industry and keep skilled women in the workforce coming back. The company employs roughly 5,000 artists, developers and other workers in the United States.

“I want them to have a healthy baby because it’s great for our business experience,” Ezzard said. “Rather than having a baby who’s in the neonatal ICU, where she’s not able to focus much on work.”

Via WaPo

Good? Bad? Creepy as fuck? Unavoidable symptom of the data age and our global corporatocracy? I’d be particularly interested in hearing the views of women on this board to whom this pertains much more intimately, rather than to other parties who are more likely seeing this from a relatively detatched perspective.

1 Like

This personally makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t think that you should trade of personal privacy for better support from a company. It’s a blurring work/life privacy, I can see why people might find it helpful, but I’d rather not have a job know what my body is going through.

1 Like

This was probably pitched as a satire joke in a cyberpunk game and turned down for being too ridiculous.

AKA super creepy and will definitely be used somehow in a corrupt system to dehumanize actual people and cut them from their ability to find work or even have healthcare.


I’m sure Ezzard will get a very stern talking to today about not saying the quiet parts out loud.

1 Like

It’s Activision so he’ll probably be fine.

You ever read what comes out of the mouth of the CEO?

1 Like

The line between parody and reality has lapped reality for a third time, it seems.

1 Like

I’m sorry, I was trying to come up with a response, but I seem to have vomited my entire spine in outrage.


Gonna go ahead and add this to the growing list of examples of why I think it’s perfectly okay for groups of employees to hoist their bosses into dumpsters.

1 Like

Good to know people will sell out their personal information for as little as a $1 a day.

Here’s an idea, how about pay your employees a fair wage so they don’t feel like they need that extra $30 a month?


The other issue here is that whilst it is entirely optional now, you can bet at some point in the future there will be enough of a critical mass that you will be looked down on if you don’t comply use the app


I imagine that you could potentially make it so you could figure out who is likely to die first/ easiest to replace based on medical issues. It’s not much harder than just getting this.

Sometimes I wake up and I’m all “Yay, I’m living in the future!”

And sometimes I wake up and I’m like “Crap, I’m living in this future.”

There is no reasonable conversation that should end with “and your employer gets all of the private medical details about _____” If this employer really wanted to help pregnant employees out of a sense of altruism and community, they’d just provide benefits and tools with no strings attached.