Many common girls’s well being apps fail to satisfy primary knowledge privateness and safety requirements, in keeping with a evaluate revealed in JMIR.
The examine analyzed 23 of probably the most downloaded and highest rated femtech apps on Apple’s App Retailer and Google Play by two unbiased reviewers on knowledge privateness, knowledge sharing and safety evaluation standards. Sixteen of the apps had been associated to fertility, cycle monitoring and being pregnant, whereas others centered on areas like breast and lung cancers, psychological well being, train and abortion.
Researchers discovered all of the apps included behavioral monitoring, and 14 allowed location monitoring. In the meantime, solely 16 displayed a privateness coverage, and 12 requested consent from customers. Three of the apps started gathering knowledge earlier than acquiring consent. 13 offered customers with details about knowledge safety.
The evaluate additionally famous that 20 of the 23 apps shared knowledge with third events, whereas researchers could not decide knowledge sharing insurance policies from the ultimate three.
“Most of the hottest girls’s mHealth apps in the marketplace have poor knowledge privateness, sharing and safety requirements. Though laws exist, such because the European Union Common Knowledge Safety Regulation, present practices don’t observe them,” the examine’s authors wrote. “The failure of the assessed girls’s mHealth apps to satisfy primary knowledge privateness, sharing and safety requirements isn’t ethically or legally acceptable.”
WHY IT MATTERS
The researchers argued that ladies’s well being apps particularly can comprise non-public knowledge that will come from younger girls, teenagers and youngsters.
“Given the delicate nature of ladies’s well being, girls’s mHealth apps ought to follow elevated privateness slightly than the poor practices uncovered on this examine. Furthermore, some girls’s mHealth apps collected not solely girls’s delicate knowledge but in addition data on kids and infants,” they wrote. “These observations show the complexity of the usual practices of information privateness and consent.”
THE LARGER TREND
After a Supreme Court docket draft opinion that might overturn Roe v. Wade leaked earlier this month, some privateness and safety specialists have raised considerations that knowledge from period-tracking apps could possibly be used to find out whether or not the person has had an abortion.
Privateness considerations have surfaced for femtech apps earlier than. Standard interval and fertility monitoring app Flo, which raised $50 million in Collection B funding final 12 months, settled with the Federal Commerce Fee in January 2021 relating to a criticism the corporate had shared person knowledge with advertising and analytics companies at Fb and Google.
In the meantime, although femtech nonetheless makes up a small portion of total digital well being funding, the market has been rising. In its Q1 funding report, Rock Well being famous that reproductive and maternal well being startups moved into the highest six when it comes to scientific focus for the primary time since 2019, scooping up $424 million in financing.