Duke program allows patients track, share health data from phones

As Apple developed HealthKit, the Federal Trade Commission raised concerns about what would happen to users’ data. Commissioners became satisfied that Apple’s privacy policy would prevent app developers from sharing info with third parties.

Craig Petronella, who heads up Petronella Technology Group, Inc., in Wake County, says there are still steps that should be taken to better protect sensitive information.

“Every text message, every email they’ve written is all unencrypted on that device,” he says.

Petronella says despite preventive steps companies like Apple and Google take, there are still ways to get that information.

“The part that google and apple will never be able to stop is the ability for any malicious user to add that app in that app store and to be able to essentially build that bomb or build that root kit that has the malicious intent to do what you just said, basically steal that information and send it to a third party,” he says.

In a report to the California Consumer Protection Foundation, attorney Linda Ackerman, who works on health information privacy issues, surveyed health and fitness apps.

According to the study, 26 percent of the free apps had no privacy policies at all. Beyond that, 39 percent of them sent data to a third party not disclosed by the developer either in the app or in a privacy policy. To read the study, click here.

“Your name, your address, your phone number, your birthdate, your social security number, whatever potentially private information that you’re typing in, it’s unencrypted, which is why it’s unsafe,” says Petronella.

Read more here.

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