There’s an app for just about everything. There’s an app for pretending to shave your beard. There’s an app for helping bread become toast. There’s even an app for timing your pee breaks at the movie theater. However pointless these apps might be, one of their functions is much more sinister…. they collect and sell your data. You might think, “Why does it matter if someone knows when I take my pee break during a movie?” Well. It probably doesn’t. But the practice of selling your data isn’t isolated to silly apps like these— apps may actually sell data about your health and personal habits.
In many cases, this data will be used in marketing and advertising campaigns. While targeted ads are annoying, they aren’t the real threat here. If health insurance companies gain access to your medications or medical history, it could affect insurance rates or employment benefits. The healthcare privacy rules that typically protect people simply don’t apply to information voluntarily submitted to mobile apps. The majority of health apps aren’t subject to national regulations, which can be detrimental to the financial well-being and privacy of people utilizing apps to help them with weight loss, addiction, and mental illnesses. This is even more worrisome as companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, attempt to move into the healthcare market.