Five Things I Learned from Reading the Privacy Policy

This is the first in a series of alerts by PRC Outreach Coordinator, Morgan that will take a deeper look into privacy policies, revealing important information for consumers about the use and protection of their personal information.

While browsing the Apple App Store or Android Play Store, you can find tens of thousands of applications (known as “apps”) under the “Medical” category. These apps require users to register in order to create a personalized medical profile that can manage their prescriptions or help track vitals like blood pressure and glucose levels. With pharmacy coupons at your fingertips and pill reminders in your pocket, these apps are marketed to mobile users as convenient, helpful, and even reliable or secure. Sounds like a dream come true for the plugged-in, health-conscious consumer! This in mind, I decided to take a closer look at some of the highest-rated medical apps’ privacy policies to find out what wasn’t being talked about in the app stores…

Understanding Health and Medical Privacy

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has recently updated and expanded our consumer guides on health privacy.  We are excited to release our updated HIPAA Health Privacy Fact Sheets.   Visit our Medical Privacy page to find additional resources on health-related privacy issues.  As always, please feel free to contact us with your privacy questions and complaints

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Releases Study: Mobile Health and Fitness Apps: What Are the Privacy Risks?

Many individuals use mobile apps to monitor their health, learn about specific medical conditions, and help them achieve personal fitness goals.  Apps in the “wellness” space include those that support diet and exercise programs; pregnancy trackers; behavioral and mental health coaches; symptom checkers that can link users to local health services; sleep and relaxation aids; and personal disease or chronic condition managers.   

After studying 43 popular health and fitness apps (both free and paid) from both a consumer and technical perspective, it is clear that there are considerable privacy risks for users – and that the privacy policies for those apps that have policies do not describe those risks. However, these apps appeal to a wide range of consumers because they can be beneficial, convenient, and are often free to use. 


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