Washington [US]: The company behind a popular fertility app has agreed to pay USD 200,000 in federal and state fines after authorities alleged that it had shared users’ personal health information for years without their consent, including to Google and to two companies based in China, according to CNN Business.
The app, known as Premom, will also be banned from sharing personal health information for advertising purposes. It must ensure that the data it shared without users’ consent is deleted from third-party systems, according to the Federal Trade Commission, along with the attorneys general of Connecticut, the District of Columbia and Oregon.
Wednesday’s (local time) proposed settlement targeting Premom highlights how regulators have stepped up their scrutiny of fertility trackers and health information in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision last year striking down federal protections for abortion, CNN Business said.
The sharing of personal data allegedly affected Premom’s hundreds of thousands of users from at least 2018 until 2020, and violated a federal regulation known as the Health Breach Notification Rule, according to an FTC complaint against Easy Healthcare, Premom’s parent company.
Premom didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition, Premom allegedly shared location information and device identifiers — such as WiFi network names and hardware IDs — with two China-based data analytics companies, known as Jiguang and Umeng, according to the complaint. That information, the FTC alleged, “could be used to identify Premom’s users and disclose to third parties that these users were utilising a fertility app,” according to an FTC complaint filed against Easy Healthcare, Premom’s parent company.
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson, a wave of anti-abortion legislation has raised the prospect that fertility apps, search engines and other technology platforms could be forced to hand over user data in potential prosecutions of abortion-seekers, according to CNN Business.
“Now more than ever, with reproductive rights under attack across the country, it is essential that the privacy of healthcare decisions is vigorously protected,” said DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb in a statement.
“My office will continue to make sure companies protect consumers’ personal information to protect against unlawful encroachment on access to effective reproductive healthcare.”