Fertility App Premom Shared Sensitive User Data With Chinese Firms
Digital healthcare on smartphones certainly benefits users, though preserving privacy isn't one of them.
A popular fertility-tracking app called "Premom" (owned by Easy Healthcare) is under fire for sharing users' health information with third-party advertisers, according to a new Federal Trade Commission complaint.
The ovulation tracker, menstrual calendar, and fertility tool allegedly shared sensitive user data with third parties through software development kits that were integrated into the app.
In August 2020, the International Digital Accountability Council found Premom shared user location data and device identifiers with two Chinese companies without user consent.
"Ultimately, this could allow these third parties to associate these fertility and pregnancy Custom App Events to a specific individual," the FTC complaint said.
Tech Crunch dives deeper into identifying who those specific Chinese companies were:
Easy Healthcare also allegedly shared users' sensitive identifiable data with two China-based mobile analytics companies known for "suspect privacy practices," according to a statement by Connecticut attorney general William Tong. Data including IMEI numbers — strings of numbers tied to individual devices — and precise geolocation data were transferred to analytics firms Jiguang and Umeng between 2018 and 2020, according to the FTC.
The FTC alleges that the company did so knowing that Jiguang and Umeng could use this data for their own business purposes or could transfer the data to additional third parties, and says Easy Healthcare only stopped sharing this data when Google notified the app maker in 2020 that the transfer of data to Umeng violated its Google Play Store policies.
Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the health app "broke its promises and compromised consumers' privacy."
The Department of Justice settled with Easy Healthcare for $100,000 for violating the FTC's Health Breach Notification Rule. And the app company also settled with Connecticut, Oregon, and the District of Columbia for $100,000.
This brings us to the popular video app TikTok, owned-by Chinese firm ByteDance Ltd., with over 150 million users in America. Can you imagine the volume of personal data potentially being transmitted back to China?
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Here's the FTC complaint.