Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been asked to assure the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it will safeguard the sensitive health data collected by its smartwatch and other mobile devices in order to avoid its usage without the permission of the owner, says a report from Reuters, which cites sources familiar with the matter.
Apple works with agencies
According to the sources, the smartphone maker’s executives have held numerous meetings with FTC officials over the past few months to ensure that it will protect the data at all costs and not sell to third parties such as marketers. Also it will not allow third party developers to sell the data either. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said that it is making efforts to explain to regulators, including the FTC, about the data protection in its services. Apple spokeswoman Turdy Muller told Reuters that the company is encouraged and satisfied by the support of these agencies.
Apple Inc.’s new HealthKit API allows users to decide how the information gathered by mobile health apps will be used and which information they want to share. Muller said that HealthKit was built after considering all privacy issues.
The agency is interested in knowing everything about the smartwatch, which can gather the user’s pulse and potentially store health-related information. The iPhone maker is confident that its health apps will become significant in taking forward mobile healthcare, a profitable area in which competitors such as Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung are also weighing opportunities.
No formal investigations yet from FTC
FTC Commissioner Julie Brill stated in May that the agency is taking a keen interest in health data that is not used in medical contexts, such as information collected through wearable and mobile health apps.
Apple is taking assistance from experts such as health data protection lawyer Marcy Wilder to present their case on the health issues, says the report. Some experts argue that Apple has set a strong model for health data privacy. App developers need users’ permission before they can collect health data, and the data logged by its smartwatch is encrypted on the device.
As of now, the FTC has not given any sign of launching a formal investigation into the matter, but its concern hints at the agency’s determination to manage and safeguard consumer-generated health and fitness data. A request for comment was declined by the FTC.