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FTC “Seeking Assurances” That Apple Will Keep Health Data Private

by Jacob Kleinman | November 14, 2014November 14, 2014 12:30 pm PDT

Tech giants like Apple, Google and Samsung are all rushing to offer health apps and services as the market for fitness trackers and wearable devices continues to grow, but collecting customer health data isn’t as simple as tracking their search history or shopping habits.

Reuters reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is pushing back in an effort to protect that sensitive information, starting with Apple’s new Health app and HealthKit platform.

Apple has apparently met with FTC officials several times in the past few months, and Cupertino has repeatedly stressed that it will never make personal health data information available to advertisers or any third parties. The company may also hire a “health privacy czar,” according to Reuters’ sources.

The FTC is unlikely to launch an official investigation, though it’s keeping a close eye on the Apple Watch, which will include sensors that measure the wearer’s pulse. The agency is also pushing for new laws that would classify data recorded by mobile health apps and devices under the same protections given to traditional medical data.

At the end of the day Apple may end up setting the bar for privacy when it comes to mobile health services. “We designed HealthKit with privacy in mind.” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters. “We’ve been very encouraged by [the FTC’s] support.” 


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...