Many fashionable girls’s well being apps fail to satisfy fundamental knowledge privateness and safety requirements, in line with a assessment printed in JMIR.
The examine analyzed 23 of essentially 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 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. 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 supplied customers with details about knowledge safety.
The assessment 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.
“Lots of the hottest girls’s mHealth apps in the marketplace have poor knowledge privateness, sharing and safety requirements. Though rules exist, such because the European Union Common Information Safety Regulation, present practices don’t observe them,” the examine’s authors wrote. “The failure of the assessed girls’s mHealth apps to satisfy fundamental knowledge privateness, sharing and safety requirements will not be ethically or legally acceptable.”
WHY IT MATTERS
The researchers argued that girls’s well being apps specifically can comprise non-public knowledge that will come from younger girls, teenagers and youngsters.
“Given the delicate nature of girls’s well being, girls’s mHealth apps ought to observe elevated privateness fairly than the poor practices uncovered on this examine. Furthermore, some girls’s mHealth apps collected not solely girls’s delicate knowledge but in addition info on youngsters and infants,” they wrote. “These observations reveal the complexity of the usual practices of information privateness and consent.”
THE LARGER TREND
After a Supreme Courtroom draft opinion that will 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 consumer has had an abortion.
Privateness issues have surfaced for femtech apps earlier than. Common interval and fertility monitoring app Flo, which raised $50 million in Sequence B funding final yr, settled with the Federal Commerce Fee in January 2021 concerning a grievance the corporate had shared consumer 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 medical focus for the primary time since 2019, scooping up $424 million in financing.