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Workout Apps May Put Personal Health Privacy In Danger

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Healthwatch

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Imagine if your employer or a potential date could easily find out how much you weigh or learn other embarrassing details about your health.

Turns out, there are some popular workout apps that can put your privacy at risk.

Executive Akilah Monifa is a fitness fanatic and a techie who loves fitness apps.

They help this working mom stay healthy as they track every step she takes, every bite she eats, and even how long she sleeps.

I don’t have to write it down. It tracks it automatically,” explained Monifa.

But it turns out the apps aren’t the only ones tracking your data.

Recent studies find more than a third of all apps are sharing – or selling – your health information with third parties which are not mentioned in their privacy policies.

“If most consumers knew what was really going on under the hood, they would be really scared about using those apps,” said PRC Researcher Craig Lie Njie.

Craig Lie Njie of the Privacy Rights Clearing House says consumer health information is big business and the law surrounding health app data is murky at best.

They found data is often shared via unencrypted networks, potentially exposing sensitive and even embarrassing information.

In addition, it’s not protected under HIPPA laws, which can leave your information up for sale to the highest bidder, with no expiration in sight.

“There is the use of the data today and there is what happens potentially in the future,” said Lie Njie.

Currently the data is primarily sold to advertisers and aggregators but imagine someday googling your name and finding your weight, or worse.

What if insurers or potential employers had access to your blood pressure, cholesterol, or that time of the month?

Sound farfetched?

So did employers checking your credit score just a few years ago.

Monifa says she’s not concerned. For her, the benefits outweigh the risk and she’s careful choosing paid apps over freebies. She also limits the information she provides and assumes anything she does share probably won’t remain private.

“It doesn’t have any information that I don’t give it so I’m not unduly concerned,” said Monifa.

Paid apps generally have better privacy policies than free apps but read them carefully and assume any information you provide is being shared.

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