The privacy problem with health-related apps is linked to insecure coding

The privacy problem with health-related apps is linked to insecure coding

Posted Oct 7, 2021 from

In his next column for Digital Health, Davey Winder, explores the privacy issues surrounding health-related apps.

A study published in the British Medical Journal has served to confirm an inconvenient truth: mobile health apps may not be as private as you think. I’m not convinced that’s the biggest issue with mobile health apps, truth be told.

47% of apps analysed didn’t comply with their own privacy policy

The cross sectional study, authored by Gioacchino Tangari, Muhammad Ikram, Kiran Ijaz, Mohamed Ali Kaafar and Shlomo Berkovsky, set itself the objective of analysing what user data is collected by health and fitness related apps on Google Play and thus reveal any associated risks to privacy.

The researchers performed their in-depth analysis on a total of 15,838 global apps from the Australian store with a 8,468 non-health apps used for the baseline comparison. Of these, the vast majority (88%) were using either cookies or some form of tracking identifier relating to user activity, and 28% of the apps didn’t have any privacy policy. Of those that did, only 47% of the apps complied with that policy.


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