FTC presses Apple on protections for HealthKit data | Cult of Mac

FTC presses Apple on protections for HealthKit data


Apple's reputation as a mobile health company is growing. Photo: Apple
FTC wants to know who sees your Health data Photo: Apple

Apple’s HealthKit app for iOS 8 is great at capturing and storing personal health data from tons of sources, but according to a Reuters report, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission wants to know what it plans to do with all of it.

The FTC has reportedly met with from, seeking assurances that sensitive health data scooped up by the Apple Watch and other apps won’t be used without users’ permissions.

“Two people, both familiar with the FTC’s thinking, said Apple representatives have met on multiple occasions with agency officials in recent months, to stress that it will not sell its users’ health data to third-party entities such as marketers or allow third-party developers to do so.”

Apple introduced HealthKit and the Health app with the release of iOS 8 in September as its first effort to establish itself in the mobile healthcare industry. The second phase of Apple’s plan – the Apple Watch – is set to launch next Spring, giving wearers access to data like their heart rate, caloric burn and other personal info.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Miller told Reuters that the company works closely with regulators around the world. “We’ve been very encouraged by their support. We designed HealthKit with privacy in mind.

To respond to the health data problems, Apple’s turned to an expert team of lawyers that includes health data protection lawyer Marcy Wilder. They’re also considering appointing a czar of health privacy.

The FTC’s biggest concern is that most data stored by health apps isn’t covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It’s priority for now is make sure the sensitive data isn’t being sold to third party marketers. However, a recent study found 12 health app developers were sharing info with 76 parties, so there’s still holes to be plugged.

Source: Reuters


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.