Free Health Apps, Search Keywords Are a Threat to Privacy: Report
Free health and fitness applications were more of a threat to privacy than paid apps, according to a report from Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC), a nonprofit focused on consumer privacy, has released a study showing that mobile health and fitness apps threaten a user's privacy with search loopholes and a lack of encryption. Paid health apps had a lower risk than free apps of violating privacy because they require advertising for revenue, according to the report, "Technical Analysis of the Data Practices and Privacy Risks of 43 Popular Mobile Health and Fitness Applications," unveiled on July 16. With less of a need for advertising, paid apps are less like to share data with third parties, said Craig Michael Lie Njie, founder and CEO of Kismet World Wide Consulting, who carried out the study between March and June 2013. The California Consumer Protection Foundation funded the project. "Paid apps do not have a lot of advertising embedded," Lie Njie said. "They were just providing the core functionality because the people paying for the app are the ones driving the revenue stream," Lie Njie told eWEEK.
The free apps drive advertising with keywords that could draw on the user data, he suggested.