May 27, 2022

New Research: “Health Apps May Pose Major Privacy Concerns”

From CBS News:

[A] study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that many health apps transmit sensitive medical information, such as disease status and medication compliance, to third parties, including aggregators and advertising networks.

For the study, researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law identified all available Android diabetes apps and collected and analyzed their privacy policies and permissions. Apps for Apple devices were not included in the study.

The authors installed a random selection of the apps to determine whether data were transmitted to third parties, defined as any website not directly under the developer’s control.

Read the Complete Article

Additional Material From JAMA: “Health Apps and the Sharing Of Information With Third Parties”

One-fifth of smartphone owners had health apps in 2012. Health apps can transmit sensitive medical data, including disease status and medication compliance.


Most of the 211 diabetes apps (81 percent) in the study did not have privacy policies. Only 4 policies said they would ask users for permission to share data. In the transmission analysis that included 65 apps, sensitive health information from diabetes apps (e.g., insulin and blood glucose levels) was routinely collected and shared with third parties, with 86 percent of apps placing tracking cookies and 76 percent without privacy policies. Of the 19 apps with privacy policies that shared data with third parties, 11 apps disclosed this fact, whereas 8 apps did not.

Note: The Citation of the JAMA Article Referenced Above is:
Sarah R. Blenner, J.D., M.P.H. et al. Privacy Policies of Android Diabetes Apps and Sharing of Health Information. JAMA, March 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.19426

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.