A well-liked interval and fertility monitoring app has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it lied to customers about sharing non-public well being info with third-party companies, together with Fb and Google. Flo, a interval and ovulation monitoring app, has greater than 100 million customers.
In the complaint, the FTC alleges Flo informed customers their info could be saved non-public. Then it shared their delicate well being information, including the dates of their periods and their pregnancy plans, with exterior corporations that offered advertising and marketing and analytics companies to the app. It additionally did not restrict how this information could be used.
The transfer may have allowed Fb to match delicate well being info with customers’ profiles and goal adverts at them extra successfully. As some customers are extra prepared to share non-public info with an app like Flo than a significant social community, the disclosures can really feel invasive.
“Apps that gather, use, and share delicate well being info can present useful companies, however shoppers want to have the ability to belief these apps,” mentioned Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Shopper Safety. “We’re trying carefully at whether or not builders of well being apps are conserving their guarantees and dealing with delicate well being info responsibly.”
Information of the settlement follows a 2019 report from The Wall Street Journal, which revealed that Flo was secretly sharing delicate consumer information with Fb.
A 2019 study published in JAMA Network Open additionally confirmed that apps marketed to folks with melancholy or who wished to give up smoking had been sharing well being information with Fb and Google as properly.
As a part of the settlement, Flo has to inform customers about how their private info was shared and ask for his or her permission earlier than sharing extra info sooner or later. The corporate additionally has to obtain an unbiased audit of its privateness practices.