How to stop health and fitness apps from using your private data

Many people use well being and health monitoring apps to enhance our well-being. These apps might be very useful, however they’ll additionally acquire numerous details about us. A few of this info could also be delicate, akin to our well being situations, habits, and places. Subsequently, there’s a rising concern over how these apps deal with our information and who they share it with.

Are my well being apps taking my information?

Sure, there’s a actually good likelihood that no matter well being or health apps you are utilizing now are taking your personal information. It is because these apps prefer to promote information to advertisers and ship you focused adverts in order that they’ll earn a living. Your information can be utilized to create a profile of you and goal you with customized adverts based mostly in your well being pursuits or wants.

The information that these apps share just isn’t protected by the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which is a federal legislation that requires the privateness and safety of well being info within the U.S. HIPAA solely applies to well being care suppliers, well being plans and well being care clearinghouses, and to not app builders or advert firms. Subsequently, these apps is probably not required to acquire your consent or disclose how they use or share your information.

Stock image shows woman checking a fitness tracker on wrist

A girl checks a health tracker on her wrist. (

How some well being apps promote your information to advertisers Medicine Information, WebMD: Symptom Checker and Interval Calendar Interval Tracker are among the many common well being apps which have reportedly been discovered to share consumer information with third-party advertisers. In line with one research, researchers discovered that many apps included code that would doubtlessly acquire consumer information, akin to private identifiers, well being info, and system info. They concluded that some of these apps pose severe issues for information privateness and that there’s a important want for extra transparency and regulation.


What do they use to trace me if it isn’t my delicate information?

The apps do not sometimes use your title, e mail or every other private information to focus on you straight. Most of them will use what known as an identifier, which is a string of numbers which might be linked to your telephone slightly than your title. Say you are utilizing one in every of these apps and looking out up nervousness signs. The app can ship your consumer identifier quantity and the phrase “nervousness” to advert firms to allow them to goal or profile us for his or her monetary acquire.

Additionally, even when your title and e mail deal with usually are not being shared with advertisers, your information can nonetheless be used to establish you. For instance, in the event you use the identical system ID to log in to a number of well being apps, advertisers could possibly monitor your exercise throughout these apps and construct a profile of your pursuits.

Are there apps on the market that do not do that?

Sure, there are some well being apps on the market, akin to PTSD Coach, Headspace, and extra, that don’t share your personal information mechanically. Mozilla printed a research known as *Privateness Not Included, which incorporates a few of these apps that shield consumer information in the appropriate manner, together with the apps PTSD Coach and Wysa. In addition they put warning labels on different apps that shouldn’t have nice safety for consumer information. You may take a look at their webpage to see if an app you are utilizing is protected or not.

Stock photo shows woman checking health app on smartphone

A girl checks a well being app on a smartphone in a inventory photograph. (

Find out how to shield your information from well being and health apps 

Many people have gotten used to those well being and health apps, and so they’ve helped hundreds of thousands of individuals immensely, so it is not truthful that these apps take our information with out our consent. Nonetheless, if it considerations you, and it ought to, you possibly can take steps to additional shield your self. Listed here are a few of my ideas.

Overview app permissions

When putting in or utilizing an app, test the permissions it requests. If an app asks for entry to your medical information or any delicate info, think about whether or not it’s essential for the app’s performance. If there are any permissions it’s asking for that you just’re uncomfortable granting, deny or revoke them.

Management app entry

Examine the privateness settings in your system to regulate app entry to delicate information.

Find out how to test app permissions on an iPhone

  • Open your Settings app
  • Click on Privateness & Safety 
  • Choose Monitoring
  • Select which apps you need to monitor you always and which you don’t however toggling every one on or off.

Find out how to test app permissions on an Android

Settings could differ relying in your Android telephone’s producer 

  • Open your Settings app
  • Click on Safety & privateness
  • Faucet Permission supervisor 
  • Faucet a particular app to see what permissions it’s allowed to have
  • Toggle off any permissions you don’t need the app to have.


Learn privateness insurance policies

Rigorously evaluate the privateness insurance policies of the apps you employ. I do know it takes time, nevertheless it’s definitely worth the funding. Search for details about how your medical information is collected, saved, and shared, and use your judgment earlier than downloading the app. Make sure the app has clear pointers on the way it handles your information and whether or not it sells it to 3rd events.

Choose out of knowledge sharing

Some apps could present choices to decide out of knowledge sharing or restrict the sharing of your info. Discover the app’s settings or preferences to see in the event you can disable data-sharing options.

Use respected apps

Stick with well-known and respected well being and health apps which have a superb monitor report of defending consumer privateness. Analysis and browse critiques concerning the app’s privateness practices earlier than putting in it. We talked about PTSD Coach and Wysa earlier as verifiably good choices, and you’ll test Mozilla’s *Privateness Not Included web page for extra.

Stock photo shows a man checking his fitness tracker on his wrist

A person checks his health tracker on his wrist. (

Think about offline alternate options

In the event you’re involved about your privateness, it’s possible you’ll need to discover offline alternate options to well being and health apps. For example, you possibly can manually monitor your train or well being information utilizing a journal or a devoted system as an alternative of counting on apps.


Search skilled recommendation

When you’ve got particular considerations concerning the privateness of your well being or medical information, I like to recommend you seek the advice of with a authorized or privateness skilled who can present customized steerage based mostly in your jurisdiction and circumstances.

Kurt’s key takeaways

Finally, how a lot information you share with apps is solely as much as you. In the event you’re uncomfortable with apps accessing your information, then think about not utilizing them or being very strict with the permissions you grant the app. Hopefully, with the fast-growing recognition of those apps, there will likely be stricter pointers down the road for a way these apps can use our information.

How involved are you about your well being and health apps utilizing your information? Is it one thing that is a dealbreaker for you? Tell us by writing us at

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