Julie Brill, FTC Commissioner, is Concerned About Health Apps - The UpStream

Julie Brill, FTC Commissioner, is Concerned About Health Apps

posted Saturday Jul 26, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Julie Brill, FTC Commissioner, is Concerned About Health Apps

One of the biggest trends in mobile right now is health. The category ranges from wearable technology to being able to talk to your doctor via mobile app. It is the perfect intersection between mobile and wearables, so much so that one of the largest marketplaces at CES is health tech.

That marketplace may get more complicated if the Federal Trade Commission's Commissioner Julie Brill has her way. It turns out that she, like most of Washington, is afraid of change. Her biggest fear is that the use of data collected through health applications might be able to accurately assess reality.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that what the health related data is supposed to do?" To that I say, of course it is. Brill fears that the accurate analysis conducted on this data that we have willingly given to the application might lead to negative consequences.

Brill's example of what she is concerned about is from Target. Using sales information the store was able to predict the pregnancies of some of its female customers. Now this kind of analysis does not take a genius organization, nor does it require any health related to data. If you purchase on a Target credit card prenatal vitamins, Target can probably guess why you made the purchase.

Brill has taken it upon herself to lead the FCC's charge to review consumer privacy in this "new and scary" technology. She is particularly concerned with compliance with HIPAA regulations. I might have urged her to read the HIPAA regulations before she made these comments in public however, as they refer specifically to two medical offices transmitting information between one another. They do not at all regulate the transmission of information to or from a consumer.

Hopefully the FTC, which has no jurisdiction in this matter, will back off and leave the decisions on who someone decides to share information with up to the adults deciding to share that information.


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