U.S. FTC Scrutinizes Apple Over Health Data Privacy

U.S. FTC Scrutinizes Apple Over Health Data Privacy

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking to Apple for assurances that it will prevent health data collected by its iOS Health app and the upcoming Apple Watch from being used without an owner’s consent, says a report today from Reuters.


The publications sources, said to be familiar with the FTC’s thinking, tell them that Apple representatives have met on multiple occasions with agency officials in recent months, and have stressed that the company will not sell its users’ health data to third-parties, such as marketers, or allow third-party developers to do so.

Apple said it is working closely with regulators around the globe, including the FTC, to share the information about their built-in protection for such data.

Apple’s new HealthKit platform allows consumers to manage data from mobile health apps, and wearable devices, while controlling how the information is used and shared. “We designed HealthKit with privacy in mind,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters.

While the FTC is scrutinizing Apple’s handling of personal health data, there is no indication that the agency plans to launch a formal investigation into the matter.

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill said in May that the agency is concerned about the risks of health data that flows outside of a medical context, such as information collected via wearables and mobile health apps.

The agency is also looking to influence Congress to enact legislation to make the practices of data brokers more transparent.

Reuters sources indicate that Apple is considering appointing an in-house health privacy czar to watch over the company’s practices.

Apple continues to set a strong precedent in the industry when it comes to health data privacy, requiring that users must give consent before app developers are granted access to their health information, and that data logged by its smartwatch is encrypted on the device.