US FTC settle with women’s fertility tracking app over health data disclosure
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the developer of a popular menstruation and fertility tracking app had settled the authority’s allegations that the company shared users’ health information with third-party data analytics providers after promising consumers that such information would be kept private. The settlement requires Flo Health Inc. to obtain an independent review of its privacy practices and obtain users’ consent before sharing their health information. According to the FTC’s complaint, the company disclosed health data from millions of users of its Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker app to third parties that provided marketing and analytics services to the app, including the analytics divisions of Facebook and Google. Furthermore, the complaint stated that Flo disclosed sensitive health information, such as a user’s pregnancy. The FTC also alleges that Flo violated the EU-US Privacy Shield and Swiss-US Privacy Shield frameworks, which require notice, choice, and protection of personal data transferred to third parties. The FTC has issued guidance to consumers about health tracking apps, with tips on how to select and use these apps while reducing privacy risks.