Rachel Becker reports:
Free apps marketed to people with depression or who want to quit smoking are hemorrhaging user data to third parties like Facebook and Google — but often don’t admit it in their privacy policies, a new study reports. This study is the latest to highlight the potential risks of entrusting sensitive health information to our phones.
Though most of the easily-found depression or smoking cessation apps in the Android and iOS stores share data, only a fraction of them actually disclose this. The findings add to a string of worrying revelations about what apps are doing with the health information we entrust to them. For instance, a Wall Street Journal investigation recently revealed the period tracking app Flo shared users’ period dates and pregnancy plans with Facebook. And previous studies have reported health apps with security flaws or that shared data with advertisers and analytics companies.
In this new study, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers searched for apps using the keywords “depression” and “smoking cessation.”
Read more on The Verge. And remember: not every business or entity that collects, stores, and/or processes health or medical data is covered by HIPAA, even if they are clearly medically related entities.