Society as a whole has become heavily reliant on technology to help us keep track of pretty much everything. For women who are either trying to conceive or are newly pregnant, these helpful apps often include fertility or pregnancy trackers, many of which are free or fairly cheap.
But do you know the real price you’re paying with these apps? Well, one company decided to find out what health-related apps do with the data you give them — and the results are alarming to say the least.
According to a recent study by FitRated, approximately one in five health-related apps share their user data with third-party vendors.
This includes everything from fitness apps to fertility trackers, and everything in between. However, pregnancy and fertility apps were actually some of the worst apps on the list for sharing user data. In fact, both Ovia’s pregnancy app and fertility tracker ranked the worst in the entire lineup, with each sharing more than half (57%) of all the user data they collect. These apps store, and in many cases sell off to third parties, user contact information, diagnostics, financial information, and personal medical records.
Other fertility and pregnancy apps that made the list included BabyCenter’s Pregnancy Tracker, What To Expect’s Pregnancy and Baby Tracker, and Glow Baby: Newborn Tracker Log — all of which share approximately 30 percent of the user data they collect.
Inversely, The Wonder Weeks app doesn’t collect, share, or track any user data, landing it in the Top 25 safest apps of the 196 applications examined.
According to a recent article by Buzzfeed News, the majority of these apps get away with this because they ask for permissions when you download and open the app. Furthermore, both Google and Apple have policies in place that allow data collection and sharing with third parties if it either “enhances the user experience” or is used for the purpose of displaying ads (which most free apps do).
Unfortunately, once you grant these apps permission to have their way with your device, there isn’t much you can do. However, if you’re concerned about your personal information, you can take steps to protect it.
These steps include:
- Disabling location-based advertising from apps
- Carefully reading the permissions a certain app requires before you download (most display this somewhere in their description in the app store)
- Reading all privacy policies and looking for sections that list “Information We Collect” so you know exactly what a company is looking for on your device
If you want to avoid fertility or pregnancy tracking apps altogether, that is also an option. For fertility tracking, you can find websites that help with this or do it the “old school way.” For pregnancy tracking, there are several websites that allow you to do this as well.
Unfortunately, even if applications seem helpful, the company may have ulterior motives. Make sure you read the fine print before downloading any health-related apps — they could be selling your data.
Previously published on BabyGaga.
Photo by JÉSHOOTS