More than 20 years ago, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The landmark health privacy law made it clear that your personal health data would be kept between you and your healthcare providers. Fast-forward to today and that expectation of privacy isn’t so simple.
Consider the millions of women who used a pregnancy app that subsequently shared users’ personal health data with certain employers and insurance companies. That included information on those who had high-risk pregnancies and other birth complications. Ask the users of health apps that help people to manage depression or try to quit smoking—these apps are reportedly selling the personal details that they collect to third parties. And guess what? Most people don’t even realize that they unknowingly consented to this practice when they started using the apps.
New technologies have made it easier for people to monitor their own health, but health tracking apps, wearable technology devices, and home DNA testing kits have also given companies access to your personal—and private—health data with very few rules of the road in place regulating this practice. A study published earlier this year confirmed that countless health apps are collecting some of your most intimate data and sharing your personal details with third parties—like Google or Facebook, among others.