FTC seeks assurances regarding health data security and privacy from apps working with the Apple Watch
Apple’s upcoming smartwatch is reportedly being investigated concerning the security of data collected by its health apps.
Reuters claims that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating if personal health data sent from apps to the Apple Watch might be taken without the content of users and sold on to marketers or third parties.
Two parties close to the investigation said that Apple has met with the FTC several times over the past month ahead of the Watch’s release in the Spring, with company spokesperson Trudy Muller saying that Apple was “very encouraged” by the body’s support.
The FTC has declined to comment.
Too much information?
The FTC had raised concerns regarding health-tracking wearables earlier this year, with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill saying that the agency was concerned about the risks of using such devices to capture personal health data.
These concerns were heightened by an FTC study of 12 mobile health and fitness apps, which found many developers were sharing or selling the health data their products collected to 76 different parties including advertisers.
The Apple Watch was announced in September alongside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus as Apple looked to offer a new range of products to attract consumers. The Watch will be Apple’s first wearable device as it looks to claim a slice of what is becoming an increasingly lucrative market for manufacturers.
The device has a strong emphasis on health and fitness, with a built-in heart rate sensor and accelerometer, both of which can combine with a connected iPhone’s GPS and Wi-Fi to provide data for health and workout applications, with data stored in the Healthbook on the smartphone.
This is not the first time Apple’s data privacy has come under scrutiny, with a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation last year ranking the company behind the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn and Microsoft when it came to ensuring data remained secure.
The company has also seen its software, previously thought to be unhackable, come under attack from several malware threats.
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