Health-Apps: Increasing Danger for Data Privacy

Wearable fitness trackers and wellness app technology use innovation to let consumers quantify and track their health. One burgeoning trend is the smartwatch. Smartwatches are equipped to track exercise, heart rate, GPS location of the wearer, and just about anything else. Apple released its new Watch Series that allegedly quantifies the number of stairs climbed per day. Fitbit also announced its new watch that more accurately measures: heart rate, blood oxygen levels, sleep, and activity levels of different exercises. Amidst market competition and growing consumer interest in tracking individual health, the market for wearable smartwatches has grown almost 70% in 2017. This increased interest and flourishing market for health insights, has consequently inspired scientific innovators to turn their attention to fashioning technology that can track actual medical conditions — such as asthma — and that can diagnose diseases. While this innovation introduces much needed preventative healthcare apps that can be accessible to a high volume of the population, it also raises serious questions about data privacy and fraud that must be considered. Several health and fitness app makers have already come under fire for fraudulent health claims and lax data security. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman fined three popular health app makers — Cardiio, Runtastic, and My Baby’s Beat — collectively $30,000 for making health claims not backed by data or FDA-approval and for collecting and sharing users personally identifying information with third parties without the user’s consent. Additionally, an app called the Pact that either rewarded or penalized consumers monetarily for achieving or failing at their weekly goals, was fined 1.5 million dollars for withdrawing money from...