Apple Continues Data Privacy Push, Now Focusing On Health App

You wouldn’t tell your family about your bunions, or the STI you caught from that one-night stand a few nights ago – so why should Apple and other third-party apps know that too? Apple is releasing a new campaign spotlighting Health Data Privacy – ooh, privacy, a topic we know the tech giant loves! – and this time they’re making it super personal.

As most iPhone and Apple Watch users will know, the beloved Health App makes it easy for users to access health and fitness information and provides users with meaningful insights to live a healthier life. The accompanying HealthKit securely stores health and fitness information, that users can choose to share with third-party apps and trusted friends and family when necessary.

With more and more folks sharing personal data online, Apple has built software to protect this data and gives users control over their data, as highlighted in the tech company’s new campaign ad and white paper.

In the white paper, Apple shares its four privacy principles: data minimisation, on-device processing, transparency and control and security.

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Data minimisation means iOS minimises the amount of health data sent to Apple’s servers and that the data in the Health app is not readable by anyone – including Apple. Data is only accessible with a passcode, Touch ID or Face ID. Medical ID is still available when devices are locked to help first responders access medical information in times of emergency. Health data is also end-to-end encrypted when synced across devices through iCloud. This ties in with Apple’s effort to keep data secure and that the only people who have access to your data are those with your permission.

With on-device processing, data like your resting heart rate, cycle tracking predictions and the like are also calculated and stored in-device only. Users also have the choice to turn off the computation of certain health metrics too. Certain health summaries like Sleep or Cycle Tracking can also be disabled under the ‘Options’ menu.

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Apple has always been a big campaigner for privacy, so they understand that health data is sensitive to most. That said, data – and whoever and however you want to share it – is entirely up to the user. Users can view and share health data with up to five people including friends, family and healthcare providers in the Sharing Tab of the Health app, as well as have the power to decide to share data with Third-party control apps.

Before third-party apps can access your health data, users can expect to be prompted and given the power to decide, as well as control what type of data can be accessed. The Health app is designed as such not just for transparency and control purposes, but also to prevent apps from interfering with users’ health status.

Not every app can request and gain access to the data too. Apps must meet certain criteria in order to request access to Health App data via HealthKit. These criteria are found in Apple’s strict and retailed App Store Review Guidelines, yet another effort by Apple to ensure users are protected from dangerous apps and fraudulent transactions.

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