Health apps sharing data: should you be concerned?
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Health apps sharing data: should you be concerned?

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Apps and smart devices are pretty much staples for many people these days, and information is being shared all the time. But what about health apps sharing data? How much of an understanding do you have about what exactly is being passed around?

If you’re not sure, you may have reason to be concerned. Health apps are fairly common these days, from the basic ones tracking our physical activity, to period tracking apps, dietary apps, and workout apps.

Like most apps, information is being passed and shared around, and there are usually privacy policies in place and consent forms in place. But how much do people really understand about it all?

We should be concerned about health apps sharing data

There are a few good reasons as to why we should be concerned when it comes to health apps sharing data.

For one, this kind of information is often incredibly private and sensitive, and these kinds of apps are also tracking domestic data and information about relationships.

It’s the kind of data that you want to be secure and you do not want to fall into the wrong hands

Although there may be legitimate reasons for information to be shared, the more it is shared, the more vulnerable it can be. If you have one company is storing your data, you only need to be concerned about their security. If three different companies have the same data, that’s three different companies that could be hit with a cyberattack.

Are all three as secure as each other? We know that cybersecurity can differ greatly between different organisations.

How much do we really know about what’s going on?

Another key thing to look at when it comes to health apps sharing data is how far data is going, and for what reasons.

For example, there was a story recently about period-tracking apps that had been sharing information with Facebook. Data shared reportedly included things like contraception methods and sexual activities in addition to menstrual cycles.

Now, this kind of sharing may well be in the fine print of a long privacy policy, and you may even consent to it happening. But you have to ask why that kind of data is being shared with a platform like Facebook. We know a lot of apps and browsers use data for targeted marketing, but do users really expect their sensitive information from a health app to also be used in such ways?

I can imagine many people having no idea as to how far and wide their information is being shared. With GDPR now in place, organisations have a far higher duty to make sure that the data they store and process is done so in a fair and secure way.

Concerns over health apps sharing data is certainly something that users would be wise to take heed of. There’s a good reason as to why data breach compensation amounts for medical breaches can be so high. The loss of control of that kind of personal and sensitive information can be incredibly damaging.

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