Home | Ketchikan | Alaska | Sports | Waterfront | Business | Education | Religion | Scene
Classifieds | Place a class ad | PDF Edition | Home Delivery

Keep it private

Pointing to the apps, not much is private these days.

App users put anything and everything out there.

With that in mind, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is focusing on protecting consumers’ private health data.

Home DNA testing kits and health data tracking apps give companies access to unprecedented amounts of consumer health data. To date, no law adequately protects that information.

The Protecting Personal Health Data Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prepare and distribute rules for health technologies, such as health apps, wearable devices like Fitbits, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits not already regulated.

“New technologies have made it easier for people to monitor their own health,” says Murkowski, “but health tracking apps and home DNA testing kits have also given companies access to personal, private data with limited oversight.

“Information about an individual’s health is incredibly personal and keeping this information private and secure must be a priority,” she says.

 Reports are available that show that a pregnancy tracking app has been selling user data to employers; that a health app for users battling depression or attempting to stop smoking are selling personal details to third parties, i.e. Google and Facebook, without user consent, according to Murkowski.

The bill would require that appropriate standards of content and the ability of consumers to navigate, among and/or delete health data privacy options.

Apps are helpful and fun. But health is a private matter. Information pertaining to health shouldn’t be monetized or capitalized on for other purposes.

In this day and age, it’s about time for rules related to app health data.