Don’t Forget To Safeguard Your Own Health Data


We talk a lot about data privacy in the context of your responsibility to your clients to keep their data appropriately safeguarded, but what about your own personal data? Do you have a Fitbit or something similar? Do you, with or without that Fitbit, enter a pile of health data into an app you got from the Android store so that you can track your weight loss or your miles logged or your blood sugar or some such thing? About that.

Some researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law found every diabetes app on the Android store and installed a random selection. (There were no Apple store apps in this study.) What they found was exactly as awful as you would expect.

After six months, 211 of the apps remained available. The authors found the majority of these apps — over 80 percent — had no privacy policies at all. Of the 41 apps that did have privacy policies, not all of the provisions actually protected privacy. For example, more than 80 percent collected user data and almost 50 percent shared data.

Only four policies said they would ask users for permission to share data.

The authors conducted another analysis that included 65 diabetes apps, which found that sensitive information — including insulin and blood glucose levels — was routinely collected and shared with third parties.

Consider this your regular reminder that we all need to be about ten times more vigilant than we are probably being with our own data, health and otherwise.

Featured image: “cyber thief – illustration” from Shutterstock.


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