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    Los Angeles Times: Health products like wristband monitors prompt privacy worries

    The Los Angeles Times reports on privacy questions surrounding fitness technology such as health-monitoring wristbands:

    Digital devices and smartphone apps that track what we eat, how much we exercise, our weight, blood glucose and blood pressure, among other things, are widespread. […]

    There’s no shortage of mobile health apps, either. According to Forrester Research, by the end of 2013, 40,000 health and wellness apps were available for download. And more are coming.

    As consumers increasingly use mobile apps and devices to capture and store health-related information, they can release personal data that may not be as confidential as they thought.

    “Most apps are created by independent app developers, and you, for the most part, don’t know what’s happening to the information” you input, says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with San Diego-based Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

    He says hundreds of companies, most of which are unknown to consumers, compile data and create dossiers on you that they exchange with other data brokers and with companies. For example, Stephens says, “We’re seeing a frightening trend where healthcare providers are buying the data to monitor the habits of their patients.” […]

    Deven McGraw, a Washington, D.C., health privacy expert and lawyer, says consumers may be surprised to learn that all the information they upload is most likely not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA is the federal law implemented in 1996 that requires most healthcare providers and insurers to keep your medical information private. […]

    Experts say consumers face a significant challenge to control their digital data. But there are steps you can take to help protect yourself.

    Read the full article for tips from privacy experts on protecting your data. 

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