Privacy in a Mobile World
Tips to Help Protect You
In a July 2013 report on privacy risks of mobile health and fitness apps, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse stated: “Consumers should not assume any of their data is private in the mobile app environment—even health data that they consider sensitive. Users must weigh the benefits of the service with the realistic possibility that they are revealing information about their health not only to the app developer or publisher but also to third parties.1” Unlike traditional health care providers, most apps are not subject to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) requirements and consumers must take some thoughtful steps to protect their personal data should they choose to use mobile health apps.
- Lock your phone with a PIN or password. If possible, set your phone to automatically lock when not in use.2
- Download from reputable app stores only (e.g. Apple App Store, Google Play Store).2
- Decide if an app really needs access to your location, contacts, calendar, etc. before granting it permission to access these data. 1
- If you stop using an app, delete it. If the app allows, delete your account and other data.1
- Avoid texting or emailing sensitive information unless using a secure system.2
- Treat a mobile phone as you would your computer – Don’t click on suspicious or unknown links or attachments. Use solid passcodes for your phone and apps.
1. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (2013, July 15). Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Releases Study: Mobile Health and Fitness Apps: What are the Privacy Risks? Retrieved from https://www.privacyrights.org/blog/privacy-rights-clearinghouse-releases…
2. McAfee. (2012, January). 10 Quick Tips to Mobile Security. Retrieved from http://images.mcafee.com/en-us/advicecenter/pdf/MobileeGuide_Jan2012.pdf
Page authored by Lynn Eades, Health Sciences Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Last reviewed: December 4, 2017