Majority of popular health apps have no privacy policies

Mobile health (mHealth) customers shopping for applications (apps) should be aware of app privacy practices so they can make informed decisions about purchase and use.

A recent paper assessed the availability, scope, and transparency of mHealth app privacy policies on iOS and Android. Over 35 000 mHealth apps are available for iOS and Android. Of the 600 most commonly used apps, only 183 (30.5%) had privacy policies. Average policy length was 1755 (SD 1301) words with a reading grade level of 16 (SD 2.9). Two thirds (66.1%) of privacy policies did not specifically address the app itself.

These findings show that currently mHealth developers often fail to provide app privacy policies. The privacy policies that are available do not make information privacy practices transparent to users, require college-level literacy, and are often not focused on the app itself. The authors suggest that further research is warranted to address why privacy policies are often absent, opaque, or irrelevant, and to find a remedy.

Posted in Apps, Regulation, Requirements Engineering, Software Development, Technology, Validation