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Study: Popular girls’s well being apps do not meet primary privateness, safety requirements

Many widespread girls’s well being apps fail to satisfy primary knowledge privateness and safety requirements, in line with a evaluation printed in JMIR.

The research analyzed 23 of probably the most downloaded and highest rated femtech apps on Apple’s App Store and Google Play by two impartial reviewers on knowledge privateness, knowledge sharing and safety evaluation standards. Sixteen of the apps have been associated to fertility, cycle monitoring and being pregnant, whereas others targeted 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. Meanwhile, solely 16 displayed a privateness coverage, and 12 requested consent from customers. Three of the apps started amassing knowledge earlier than acquiring consent. Thirteen supplied customers with details about knowledge safety.

The evaluation 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. 

“Many of the most popular women’s mHealth apps on the market have poor data privacy, sharing and security standards. Although regulations exist, such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation, current practices do not follow them,” the research’s authors wrote. “The failure of the assessed women’s mHealth apps to meet basic data privacy, sharing and security standards is not ethically or legally acceptable.”

WHY IT MATTERS

The researchers argued that girls’s well being apps particularly can comprise personal knowledge which will come from younger girls, teenagers and youngsters. 

“Given the sensitive nature of women’s health, women’s mHealth apps should practice increased privacy rather than the poor practices uncovered in this study. Moreover, some women’s mHealth apps collected not only women’s sensitive data but also information on children and infants,” they wrote. “These observations demonstrate the complexity of the standard practices of data privacy and consent.”

THE LARGER TREND

After a Supreme Court draft opinion that might overturn Roe v. Wade leaked earlier this month, some privateness and safety consultants have raised issues that knowledge from period-tracking apps may very well be used to find out whether or not the person has had an abortion. 

Privacy issues have surfaced for femtech apps earlier than. Popular interval and fertility monitoring app Flo, which raised $50 million in Series B funding final yr, settled with the Federal Trade Commission in January 2021 relating to a criticism the corporate had shared person knowledge with advertising and marketing and analytics companies at Facebook and Google. 

Meanwhile, 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 Health 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. 

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