Tuesday, May 17

Well-being and health applications: Beware of your personal data

Applications related to well-being and health have been popular, particularly since the start of the pandemic. Zen course, psychological support, physical exercises, yoga… The platforms offer various services and very often collect very personal information that can be resold at high prices… without your knowledge.

It can be a confidence about depression, an illness, a need for psychological support, an eating disorder, information about being overweight, smoking or your sexual orientation, or even other very serious health problems… We sometimes confide too much, without worrying about the fact that on the Internet any data can be monetized if we address unscrupulous individuals.

In early 2020, before the pandemic, “there were more than 20,000 health and wellness-related smartphone apps worldwide and, in the United States alone, a study observed 20 million total downloads during this alone. year, including 4 million during April 2020 and the first confinements”, explains to CNEWS Arnaud Lemaire, technical director France of F5, an American company specializing in cybersecurity. If, in fact, users have had less access to health professionals and wellness coaches due to Covid-19, the fact remains that they have turned to applications which have experienced a real boom.

“Consumer schizophrenia”

And when it comes to being supported, “there is a kind of schizophrenia of consumers who are going to be wary of giving very personal or health-related information to a natural person, when most will go down keep them within an application and provide this information without asking questions”, notes Arnaud Lemaire. “However, we know that many applications of this type reserve the right to communicate your data to third-party companies which themselves can resell them to others. In addition, some do not clearly explain where your data is hosted,” he adds.

Asking a smoker how he feels is already retrieving emotional information and not just factual information. “Some applications offer, for example, personal coaches who will create daily routines, with the aim of reducing a person’s stress, but with this type of routines we can finally know your agenda”, notes Arnaud Lemaire.

Tips before downloading

Before downloading this type of application, you should ask yourself about certain points. “Try to go to the best known and therefore most used applications. These of course collect data, but they run a significant risk, in my opinion, that of losing their notoriety in the event of a scandal, which is important to protect their business, ”advises Arnaud Lemaire. It is also interesting to read the data usage policies, “if there are none, then I do not recommend the application”, he continues. In the App Store (under iOS) it is also possible to read all the data collected in the description of the application that interests you, a source of information made compulsory by Apple in 2020.

“You also have to know how far you want to place the cursor on the data you are willing to share,” he adds. Finally, be aware that French law, as well as the European GDPR, establish very strict measures governing health data. In the event of a legal dispute, there is therefore a good chance that the law will be on your side.


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