Multiple mobile health applications “share (user) information with a broad collection of advertisers,” according to an investigation conducted by The Washington Post. While data most apps share does not directly identify users, they typically use a sequence of numbers, or identifiers, linked to a user’s device, the investigation found. The app makers generally argued sharing a keyword search by a user is not equivalent to disclosing their health concerns. However, privacy advocates warned selling user identifiers and keyword searches “opens consumers to unnecessary risk,” because the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act does not cover the apps.
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