There is a popular menstrual and fertility tracker app He settled with the Federal Trade Commission Due to allegations that it lied to users about sharing private health information with outside companies, including Facebook and Google. Flo, the menstrual cycle & ovulation tracker app, has over 100 million users.
In the complaint, The FTC claims that if it notifies users that their information will remain confidential. Then share their sensitive health data, Including menstrual dates and pregnancy plans-With outside companies that provided marketing and analysis services for the application. He also failed to specify how this data would be used.
The move would have allowed Facebook to match sensitive health information with user profiles and target ads on them more effectively. Since some users are more willing to share private information with an app like Flo compared to a major social network, the disclosures may seem invasive.
“Apps that collect, use and share sensitive health information can provide valuable services,” said Andrew Smith, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Consumer Protection. “But consumers must be able to trust these apps.” “We are closely examining whether health app developers keep their promises and handle sensitive health information responsibly.”
Followed the news of the settlement a 2019 Report from The Wall Street JournalAnd the Which revealed that Flo was secretly sharing sensitive user data with Facebook.
A 2019 study published in The JAMA network is open It also showed that apps marketed to people with depression or who wanted to quit smoking were sharing health data with Facebook and Google as well.
As part of the settlement, Flo is required to notify users of how their personal information is being shared and to request permission before further information is shared in the future. The company also needs to receive an independent audit of its privacy practices. She did not admit any error.
In a statement emailed to the edge“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the FTC and resolved this issue. We will conduct a compliance review of our policies and procedures as required as part of the consent agreement and provide the FTC with regular updates. We are committed to ensuring that the privacy of our users’ personal health data is of paramount importance,” said a Flo spokesman. .
Update January 13th, 4:35 PM ET: This article was updated with a statement from Flo.