New York Governor to Investigate Facebook Health Data Practices

A recent Wall Street Journal report found that several applications share sensitive data with the social media platform -- often without user consent. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo calls it “an outrageous abuse of privacy.” Facebook can receive this data from certain apps even if the user does not have a Facebook account, according to the Journal.

Among the apps sending information to Facebook are a period-tracking app and a heart-rate monitoring app, the Journal says. For example, Instant Heart Rate: HR monitor would send heart rates of its users to Facebook immediately after it was recorded.

Governor Cuomo ordered an investigation into Facebook’s health data and sensitive data practices, following this recent Wall Street Journal report that found the social media platform might be accessing more data from smartphone users than previously thought without user consent. In all, the WSJ report found 11 apps with millions of users share data with Facebook, with little to no disclosure to its users. These apps were found from just a sample of 70 of the most popular apps on Apple and Google’s app stores.

The practice is an “outrageous abuse of privacy” that “represents an invasion of privacy and breach of consumer trust,” Cuomo said in a statement. “According to the report, a wide range of apps are sending highly personal data to the social media giant apparently without users' consent and even when users are not logged in through Facebook.” In addition to the state probe, Cuomo called for federal regulators to “help put an end to this practice and protect the rights of consumers.”

Healthcare privacy continues to be in sharp focus with the prevalence of healthcare apps and growing popularity of telemedicine. Are you in compliance with the most current HIPAA regulations? To find out, contact the compliance experts at HIPAAcraticRx.

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