Health Apps Still Don’t Protect Your Data

When you disclose all of your personal health information, you usually assume that the person you are sharing it with will keep it secret. However, this may not be true if you are using an app – the app makers are not bound by the same law that protects other medical data.

A government report released this month with a delay of just six years looked at health data not covered by HIPAA . This includes everything from your Fitbit’s number of steps to the details of your sex life that you can enter into a fertility app. Some workplace wellness programs require you to use a health app to participate, and they also fall into this category. The report concludes that the problem needs to be corrected somehow, but no specific recommendations are made.

Here are some of the things the report considers to be problematic:

  • You do not own your data. You can get a copy of your medical records under HIPAA. Health apps are not required to provide you with access to the data they collect about you.
  • Companies that create health apps can sell your data or use it as they see fit without your consent.
  • Health app companies are under no obligation to keep your data secure . On the other hand, medical record keepers do.
  • Your app might not even have a privacy policy , so you don’t know what exactly you are agreeing to.

At this point, there is little you can do other than take this privacy policy seriously and be careful about what you do with health data that you might not want to publish or used to sell you things.

Health gadgets and apps outpace privacy protections, report results | ProPublica


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