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Consumer Reports: Health app privacy

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Posted at 4:00 AM, Aug 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-30 09:25:58-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Maureen Tsushida uses numerous health apps including My Medical to keep track of her family’s medical profiles.

“I put everything from blood work to immunization records, to medication, to eyeglasses, to checkups," says Tsushida. "I’ve really become very dependent on it.”

And as a tech blogger, Maureen knows that even the most secure apps can be compromised, so she is careful to make sure she is only storing her family medical data on her phone, not on a remote server.

“For certain medical apps, I make sure that it’s not being backed up somewhere else,' says Tsushida.

But she’s afraid her personal information could be made public. Consumer Reports says she’s right to be concerned.

“By law, doctors and hospitals have to protect your information and keep it private, but the same rules don’t necessarily apply to health apps," says Consumer Reports Tech Editor, Bree Fowler.

And Consumer Reports says it’s a good idea to ask the following: Is the app asking for permission to access your contacts or photos? Do the terms of service allow it to share your data with third parties?

“If the answer to those questions is yes, we recommend taking a good hard look before deciding whether to hand over your data or not," says Fowler. "We’re concerned that if your personal data gets out there it could ultimately lead to workplace discrimination.”

Consumer Reports also says to check the terms of service of the app, and whether the app is asking for permission to access your contacts or photos or allows it to share your data with third parties.