Apple tweaks HealthKit policy to shield your most personal data

healthkit

Apple has modified HealthKit’s privacy policy to ensure that your data is safe from advertisers.

Apple may view its mobile health push as a “moral obligation,” but for it to really become the tech leader in this area it’s going to need to ensure that it has user trust on its side.

That may help explain why — ahead of the September 9 event many predict will see the unveiling of the long-awaited iWatch — Apple has taken the opportunity to update its HealthKit privacy policy to ensure that developers keep user data away from advertisers and data brokers.

The update stops third-party apps from doing anything with this data, collected using the HealthKit platform, to do anything aside from letting users know information regarding their health.

HealthKit was announced at this year’s WWDC. Like HomeKit will do for the smart home, Apple’s aim is that HealthKit will be the central hub that will be able to collect data from various third-party apps and then present in to users in an easy-to-understand manner. To make HealthKit even better, Apple has partnered with major healthcare providers including officials at Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, as well as Allscripts, which is a competitor to major electronic health records provider Epic Systems.

Apple’s decision to ensure that user data is kept away from advertisers may help give it the edge over other companies, such as Google, whose business model is based on monetizing user data through ads.

In other words, this is a shrewd move on Apple’s part (provided that it’s not a decision mandated by the FDA) — and something that is certainly going to relieve many user concerns about health-tracking.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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