More Transparency on the Use of App Users’ Personal Data!

Italian Data Protection Authority Focuses on Medical and Wellness Apps Sector

On September 10, 2014, Italian Data Protection Authority (Authority) released the findings of a survey conducted on the medical/wellness apps sector within the initiative ‘Privacy Sweep 2014’, promoted by the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, which enhances the cooperation amongst international data protection authorities.

As a result of such survey, just 15% of the medical apps surveyed – out of a total of 1,200 – provide clear privacy policies and the Authority is now considering issuing specific measures or sanctions for non-compliant subjects. Given that the processing of personal data concerning health is particularly sensitive and therefore requires specific protection (recently also the European Commission published a Green Paper on mobile health and launched a public consultation this subject), the aim of the Authority is to grant more transparency on the use of the downloaders’ data which so far seem to be not adequately protected.

Indeed, most of the medical/wellness apps which have been surveyed do not provide (sufficient) information on the processing of personal data prior to installation, request excessive data compared to their use, or do not provide with adequate technical means in order to display in a clear and directly accessible way the privacy policy.

The European Personal Data Protection Directive is currently being revised given the development of new technologies. In the meantime data protection authorities, more and more concerned by the poor protection provided to users’ data, are monitoring the processing of personal data by specific type of apps. This includes health apps, as well as, amongst others, apps relating to games, weather forecasting and banking services. All subjects involved are consequently suggested to adopt all necessary initiatives in order to comply with applicable personal data protection regulations in order to prevent possible sanctions.

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