Apple quizzed over health data

tim-cook-glareMore bad news for Apple’s iWatch vapourware – it looks like it has attracted the attention of a US privacy watchdog.

Apple’s iWatch has been blighted by product delays and the fact that even its hype has been outclassed by products its rivals have put into the shops. Now it seems that the US Federal Trade Commission is worried about how Jobs’ Mob is going to use the sensitive health data collected by its upcoming smartwatch and other mobile devices from being used without owners’ consent.

Jobs’ Mob representatives have met on multiple occasions with agency officials in recent months, to promise that it will not flog its users’ health data to third-party entities such as marketers or allow third-party developers to do so.

The fact that you have to trust Apple with all your health data and that it the fruity computer seller is secure enough to protect it is a cause for concern. After all as attractive actresses who placed their naked pictures on the iCloud found out, Apple security is not that great.

Apple developed its new HealthKit platform, which manages data from mobile health apps, to give consumers control over how their information is used and shared. “We designed HealthKit with privacy in mind,” Apple insisted.

It is not clear if the FTC intends to launch a formal investigation or inquiry into the matter, but the dialogue underscores the agency’s interest in how the increasing wealth of consumer-generated health and fitness data will be safeguarded.

The FTC is paying particularly close attention to Apple’s upcoming smartwatch, which can track a user’s pulse and potentially store health-related information.

The FTC found in a recent study that many developers share or sell health data. The study found that developers of 12 mobile health and fitness apps were sharing user information with 76 different parties, such as advertisers.

In fact Apple did not tighten its privacy rules until August of this year to ensure that personal data collected through HealthKit would not be used by developers for the purposes of advertising or other data-mining purposes. Apps that access HealthKit are required to have a privacy policy, although it remains to be seen how Apple will enforce this.