Premom ovulation app accused of violating user privacy
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is moving to slap Easy Healthcare Corporation with restrictions and a $100,000 fine after it allegedly allowed its period-tracking app Premom to share user data with third-party advertisers and lied about it.
The FTC claims that Easy Healthcare Corporation falsely told Premom users it would only use their data — which includes sensitive information about sexual health, period cycles, and pregnancy — for internal purposes.
It alleges that it failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent health data and other personally identifying information from being shared with third parties, which included two Chinese analytics companies Umeng and Jiguang, marketing analysis platform AppsFlyer, and Google.
Used by hundreds of thousands of women, Premom “encourages users to provide information about their menstrual cycles, fertility, and pregnancy as well as to import their data from other apps such as Apple Health,” it added.
The findings were deemed serious enough by the FTC to refer them to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which is now also investigating the case.
In doing so, the FTC said: “Easy Healthcare repeatedly and deceptively promised users in its privacy policies that it would not share their health information with third parties without users’ consent and that any data it did collect was non-identifiable and only used for its own analytics or advertising.”
It added: “Easy Healthcare failed to take reasonable measures to address the privacy and data security risks created by its use of third-party automated tracking tools known as software development kits (SDKs) and shared health information for advertising purposes without obtaining consumers’ affirmative express consent.”
In addition to the proposed $100,000 fine, Easy Healthcare now faces a raft of restraints if the FTC proposal is approved by a federal court, including a permanent ban on sharing personal health data with third parties for advertising and a requirement to seek user consent before sharing data for any other purposes.
The FTC and DoJ also want to compel Easy Healthcare to seek retrieval of the data it shared from third parties and post a notice to consumers explaining the allegations it faces.
“Premom failed to fully disclose its data sharing practices, and also violated direct promises to users,” the FTC added. “The data it shared with third parties revealed highly sensitive and private details about Premom’s users and led to the unauthorized disclosure of facts about an individual user’s sexual and reproductive health, parental and pregnancy status, as well as other information about physical health conditions and status.”
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