Report Finds Health, Fitness Apps Lag in Privacy Polices Compared to Other Apps

Heather Mack | mobihealthnews | August 18, 2016

Health and fitness apps may potentially reveal data-enabled insights into the daily lives of those who use them, but what they sometimes fail to reveal are the ways they use the data collected on users. A recent study from the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington, DC-based think tank that works to advance responsible data practices, found that -- compared with other apps in the iOS and Android marketplaces -- health and fitness apps lag in privacy policies, with about 60 percent offering such information compared to 76 percent of general apps.

“While consumers might reasonably expect that any app that collects health and fitness information would be more than likely than general purpose apps to describe its privacy policies and practices, that is not always the case,” the authors write. “Given that some health and fitness apps can access sensitive, physiological data collected by sensors on a mobile phone, wearable, or other device, their below-average performance is both unexpected and troubling.”

Top paid health apps trail behind general apps, the report found, with free apps marginally better at offering privacy polices. When the researchers examined sleep-tracking apps, only 66 percent had any privacy policy, and only a little more than half of those apps linked to their privacy policy from the app store. Period and fertility trackers were better – 80 percent of them had privacy policies, but only 63 percent of them included links to those privacy policies...